Richard Lett never made a splash in the US, but in his home of Vancouver, he became well known as the drunken, belligerent a*****e who was so un-PC, he drove people away. Mind you, he wasn’t some flash-in-the-pan stand-up comic. He’s been around since the ’80s, acted in TV shows, and established himself as the antagonizer of Western Canada. Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story isn’t a biography, though. It’s a journey through his darkest hour, and we humbly come along for the ride. And what a trip it turns out to be.
We meet Richard outside of a comedy club, where, on the sidewalk, he performs an astounding poem that bridges the gap between Allen Ginsberg and Dr. Seuss. Right from the get-go, it’s evident that Lett is brilliant, but there’s something off. He’s a cancer survivor, but a little too belligerent, attacking everyone in his path and tragically trying to pass it off as routine. After a while, his abrasive behavior gets him fired from every comedy club save one where nobody comes to see him. In fact, he’s so out of control, he gets evicted for accosting his neighbors. He responds by writing all over his apartment walls. This guy is clearly not stable, and, to be honest, he’s not really likable either, making us wonder why we’re watching a movie about another a*****e imploding in front of the camera.
The truth is that Lett actually has some positive qualities, which keep the viewers engaged because we know exactly what it means if he fails. He’s completely devoted to his daughter, who seems to be the only person able to bring him back to reality. His girlfriend tries, but she’s obviously getting the short end of the stick in this relationship. Finally, he’s so confrontational, angry, and abusive he has nowhere to turn…
…and he literally falls off the grid. We get glimpses into his breakdown, but ultimately, he’s incommunicado. For years.
“…a journey through his darkest hour, and we humbly come along for the ride.”
What follows tells the real story, though.
We all know this guy. He’s the tortured genius who’s been at it for so long, he doesn’t know what else to do with himself. He may end up dead in a ditch, but will gladly die with his boots on if that’s what the situation calls for. He’ll literally kill his career onstage to make a point and have no regrets. It’s a reckless lifestyle that can’t – and doesn’t – end well…or does it?
The only problem with Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story is that the stand up comic is not well-known south of the Canadian border. Unfortunately, the movie offers up very little biographical information. As well as we get to know Lett, we don’t ever learn where he came from, what makes him tick, how he ended up here in the first place, meaning this isn’t the Richard Glen Lett Story as much as a chapter in this life determined to sink like the Titanic.
As much as we all love redemption stories, we ultimately spend more time idolizing the fatal causalities than celebrating the survivors. Never Be Done will change that because it’s not just a survival story; it’s the beginning of a whole new era.
"…the tortured genius who's been at it for so long, he doesn't know what else to do with himself."