Austen Tayshus

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Austen Tayshus (born 17 March 1954) is the stage name of Jewish Australian comedian Alexander Jacob Gutman (commonly called Sandy Gutman). He is best known for the 1983 comedy single "Australiana", a spoken word piece written by comedian Billy Birmingham, which is filled with Australian puns; it is Australia's best-selling single ever.[1]


Alexander (Sandy) Jacob Gutman was born in New York and moved to Sydney at the age of one.[2] He is the son of an Hasidic Holocaust survivor. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home. At 15, he participated in the International Bible Contest for Jewish Youth and took part in the finals in Israel; he finished in the top five. Later, he spent several months at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He returned to Israel as a volunteer during the Yom Kippur War. Gutman lives in New South Wales and has two daughters.[3]


The stage name "Austen Tayshus" is an aptronym based on the word "ostentatious". Austen Tayshus first gained public recognition in 1983 performing his comedy single, "Australiana", written by fellow comedian Billy Birmingham. It is a spoken word piece that contains many puns using Australian terms, especially with the names of places and animals.[4] For example:

  • " mate Boomer rang" (boomerang)
  • " you wanna game of Euchre, Lyptus?" (eucalyptus)
  • " much can a koala bear?" (koala)[4]

He branched out into highly political, controversial humour, often drawing on his Jewish background. A tall man (6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m)), he appears on stage wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses.[3] He is characterised by a resonant deep voice. He is often moody, and taunts his audience and venue staff.

Since "Australiana", he has performed over 10,000 shows, and produced films, documentaries and records, mostly dealing with social issues.[3]

In 1999, he released "Footyana", a comedy piece in the style of "Australiana". It includes such lines as:

He performed on the television show Live and Kicking. In 2012, he appeared as a panellist on the ABC's political panel show Q&A.

Political career[edit]

In August 2010, he ran for the Australian House of Representatives in the Division of Warringah in the August federal election, representing the Australian Sex Party. He stood against Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott.[5] He subsequently ran in the 2011 New South Wales state election as a member of the Outdoor Recreation Party, contesting Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell's seat of Ku-ring-gai.[6]


  • Fitzgerald, Ross; Murphy, Rick (2011). Austen Tayshus: The Merchant of Menace. Hale & Iremonger. [7]


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