The Zam Zam Room:
An Evening with His Royal Hipness
by Lord Buckley, Lenny Bruce, Jake Broder
with additional material by David Tughan
Ronnie Scott's, London
59E59 Theaters, New York
Various dates, June 2003 December 2005
New YorkOff-Broadway Pick of 2005
2005 Stony Award Nomination for Best Production
cast list | reviews | photographs | poster
Buckley Jake Broder
Hip News / Lenny Bruce David Tughan
Band members in NYC:
Paul Odeh Piano
Brad Russell Bass
Jimmy Young Drummer
Adapted, directed and designed by Phillip Breen
The New Yorker
'Broder gives Buckley none of the stand-up comic's yearning to be liked; he works the room not for laughs but for mind expanding exhilaration... The actor's ardent delivery produces the sensation of a giddy freefall.'
The New York Times
And Jonah Said, 'Can You Dig Me Here in This Fish?'
My lords and ladies, cats and kitties, listen up! The swinging, hip messiah has returned, and he wants to commune with your subconscious mind. Can you dig that?
If not, then you've never heard of Lord Buckley, a largely forgotten nightclub performer from the 1940's and 50's who may have been the hippest man who ever lived. Buckley was one of a kind, a Californian ex-lumberjack who invented an unlikely persona that was part English royalty, part Dizzy Gillespie. By spinning stories using a caricature of African-American slang, he did for comedy what Elvis did for music. An argument could be made that he was as influential, inspiring a who's who of the counterculture, including George Carlin, Lenny Bruce and Ken Kesey. Bob Dylan raved about him in his recent memoirs, 'Buckley was the hipster bebop preacher who defied all labels.'
Unfortunately, video of Buckley's act is scarce, but Jake Broder offers the next best thing with his performance in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley in the Zam Zam Room. Backed by a jazz trio and hewing closely to Buckley's material, he faithfully recreates a performance. Mr. Broder, wearing a coat and tails, looks a bit like Liev Schreiber and talks in growly cadences that don't quite hit Buckley's smoky low notes but get as close to them as Joaquin Phoenix does to Johnny Cash's baritone.
For comedy fans, the Lord Buckley persona is a fascinating historical document, like a Rosetta Stone for the origins of so much shtick that later emerged in the acts of Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. Mr Broder does a scrupulous job of mimicking the jazzy rat-a-tat delivery and finger-snapping attitude, in a production staged, beautifully and simply by Phillip Breen.
The New York Sun
'Mr. Broder's delivery and Phillip Breen's direction quickly lay down an unfamiliar and mesmerizing rhythm.'
'Hilarious, outrageous and wildly original... Turning one of the smaller theaters of the 59E59 complex into a nightclub setting director designer Phillip Breen recreates the atmosphere of a Lord Buckley show and Broder does the rest... A curious combination of a period piece with timeless routines that are lightly peppered with contemporary references...delicious'.
'Director Phillip Breen has orchestrated a seamless, fast paced evening...
The evening is a constant joy...truly inspired.'
'Pretty far out stuff, pretty hip, this is a powerhouse show that hardly lets you take a breath'
The Epoch Times
'Phillip Breen ably directed the show...An audience with Lord Buckley should not be missed and all interested Lords and Ladies, should check out the scene without delay!'
Jake Broder. Photo © Pete Le May
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