Speaking at the Groucho Club, the other end of Dean Street, Broder explains that Buckley, a larger-than-life character who looked like a cross between Salvador Dali and an English colonel, spoke to jazz audiences in the style and manner of a black preacher. In many ways his poetry was a forerunner of rap, the rhythm of his words having a rap-like cadence and beat.
Broder's show, which will also be seen for one night only at the legendary Ronnie Scott's club on Frith Street, has cheered audiences ("There's at last one laugh every fifteen seconds," says Broder) at the BAC, the Soho Theatre and the Arcola. He hopes to take it Off-Broadway as well, for Buckley, who was a frequent guest on "The Ed Sullivan Show," is better known in New York than in London.
The Zam Zam Room is set in Christmas 1960, a time of relative hope and freshness — John Kennedy had just won the American Presidency — and brings back to life a performer Broder describes as "beautifully mad," a man who found the real world hard to deal with but who, beginning with his name, created a wonderfully off-beat theatrical/musical world in which he flourished.