Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story is a fantastic example of true documentary filmmaking.
From 2009 to 2016, director Roy Tighe videotaped the late-night career of comedian Richard Lett, a provocateur on the Vancouver stand-up strip known for his abrasive sense of humour and behaviour. The doc gives audiences a (bar)fly-on-the-wall perspective as we hang out with Lett and watch his boastful, sometimes derogatory, ranting and raving; including openly talking about what comedy clubs have banned from and who he’s specifically ticked off in a crowd. Tighe’s camera also captures Lett’s creative wordplay, which make his off-colour demeanour harder to endure as a stranger. The inappropriate behaviour, however, contributes to his personality as a performer which he believes is carving out his stand-up niche. Some comedians attest to this, others detest it.
The documentary suddenly takes a turn when Lett’s behaviour chips away at his personal relationships, especially the patience of his landlord who ends up evicting him. Belabouring his move-out, Lett finds himself broke, homeless, and paranoid, and removes himself from the film to sort his life out. This is no longer a film about an outrageous comedian, but rather a film about someone reeling from bad decisions and trying to stay alive.
Letts’ later appearances throughout the rest of the film suggest he’s turned over a new leaf, and the film’s priceless coda reunites Tighe and Letts, as well as other subjects interviewed for Never Be Done. Letts’ refined standup act is a complete revelation that bookends this movie on the perfect note.
Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story is going to be triggering for those who can relate to Richard Lett, or have known someone like him. The language early on is also going to be a problem for some because it is so crusty and toxic, but I urge you to stick with it. F rom Richard’s unpredictable descent through to his personal assessments, Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story is a spellbinding documentary.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie
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