|Birth name||Alexander Jacob Gutman|
|Born||17 March 1954|
New York City, U.S.
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 which is filled with Australian puns; it is Australia's best-selling single ever.
His 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. He is characterised by a resonant deep voice. He is often moody, and taunts his audience and venue staff.
1954–1982: Early life
Alexander (Sandy) Jacob Gutman was born in New York to Polish Jewish parents and moved to Sydney at the age of one. 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 10. Later, he spent several months at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. He returned to Israel as a volunteer during the Yom Kippur War.Sandy went to Vaucluse Boys High School from 1966–1971.He received a Commonwealth Scholarship to Sydney University in 1972 where he began a Dentistry degree.After two years he lost interest in Dentistry and changed to an Arts Degree,and subsequently to a Film Directing course at The Australian Film and Television School,graduating as a Film Director in 1978.He wrote and directed 3 short comedies while at Film School,’Eric and Alice’in 1975,’Waves’ in 1976 and ‘The End’ in 1977. After graduation from the AFTRS, he worked at ABC Television as an assistant cameraman in their Cinecamera department and then from 1979-1980 he freelanced as a camera assistant and cinematographer on film clips for Aussie bands COLD CHISEL,THE ANGELS,MENTAL AS ANYTHING among many. Gutman lives in Sydney, New South Wales and has two grown up daughters.
1983–1984: "Australiana", "Phantom Shuffle" & When the Ticklers Stopped Quivering
His Stand-Up Comedy career began at Sydney's Comedy Store at the beginning of 1981.The stage name "Austen Tayshus" is an aptronym based on the word "ostentatious" Austen Tayshus first gained public recognition in 1983 with his comedy single, "Australiana". It is a spoken word piece that contains many puns using Australian terms, especially with the names of places and animals. For example:
Australiana is the biggest selling Australian Single ever and resonates from generation to generation.It was number one on the charts in 1983 for 13 weeks
In 1984, Austen Tayshus released the single "Phantom Shuffle",which rose to Number 16 Nationally on the Aria Chart, followed by his debut album When the Ticklers Stopped Quivering also peaking within The Australian top 100.
1985–1989: "Highway Corroboree" & Whispering Joke
In February 1988, Austen Tayshus released the single "Highway Corroboree", which peaked at number 46 on The Australian charts. It was lifted from the album Whispering Joke.He performed the single live on the Sunday Program in 1988,on Channel 9,especially for the Australian Bicentennial Anniversary.A controversial monologue which sided with The Aboriginal People,and was highly critical of the First White Settlers.
In the late 80s Austen Tayshus toured Australia with other well-known comedians and he always introduced young and gifted new comics to his audiences.
In 1990 Austen Tayshus had relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career. He had a small cameo in the Sharon Stone movie Sliver,directed by mate and fellow Film School Alumnus Phillip Noyce. At night, Austen Tayshus worked in all the comedy clubs in LA and in New York.He was represented for Stand up by the prestigious Irvin Arthur and Associates in LA in 1993 and for film work by Metropolitain.He auditioned for many big movies like Ace Ventura Pet Detective and Clear and Present Danger.
His stay in Los Angeles culminated in a collaboration on a low budget feature film titled Dream Factory, which he co-wrote with the Director Paschal Franchot, and was lead actor. The film was a tragi-comedy about Austen's last days in LA trying to become a big shot.Also included cameos from Naomi Watts,Billy Zane and Nehemiah Persoff
Returning to Australia in 1997, Tayshus wrote and starred in a short film titled Intolerance. At Tropfest in 1998, the film won the award for Best Film and Tayshus won Best Actor.INTOLERANCE had been entered in competition under the name of a fictitious feminist filmmaker,Laura Feinstein.When the film won,the boss of Tropfest,John Polson,announced that the Top prize had finally been won by a woman.When the director,Paul Fenech jumped up to claim the award, to everyones'surprise,saying there was no Laura Feinstein,it created great controversy.
The Tropfest win led directly to work on the Jane Campion film [Holy Smoke!]], Emma-Kate Croghan's Strange Planet and Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!. Austen Tayshus/Sandy Gutman has appeared in almost 30 Movies and Documentaries A full list is available at Imdb.com/Sandy Gutman.
In 1999 he participated in a television series,Aussie Jokers,produced and directed by Paul Fenech for SBS tv. His segment was an historical journey about his fathers’ Holocaust experiences in Poland from his hometown of Łódź to the death camp Treblinka to his rescue from Bergen Belsen. An emotional and deeply moving double header tracing Isaac Gutmans’ life from 1939-1945,when most of his family was murdered by the Germans just for being Jewish. The documentary has been shown several times on SBS and is available on YouTube.
In 2020 a documentary,produced by Angry Messiah Pictures, entitled Austen Tayshus SKIN IN THE GAME was completed and will be released in 2021.
He performed it live on the television show Live and Kicking to great acclaim.He continues to tour Australia,performing one hundred shows a year,and attracts younger and hipper audiences.
2010: Political career
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. 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.
In 2012, he appeared as a panellist on the ABC's political panel show Q&A to promote the release of the acclaimed biography,'AUSTEN TAYSHUS Merchant of Menace',written by Richard Murphy and Ross Fitzgerald.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|When the Ticklers Stopped Quivering||
|Lounge Lizard Live||
|Alive and Shticking||
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Certification||Album|
|1984||"Phantom Shuffle"||16||When the Ticklers Stopped Quivering|
|1986||"The Pope Down Under"||—||non-album single|
|1988||"Highway Corroboree"||43||Whispering Joke|
|"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha Ha"||—|
|1989||"Put Down That Stubbie"||—||non-album single|
|1990||"Rappin' Back to My Roots"||—||non-album single|
|1995||"I'm Jacques Chirac (And I Don't Give a...!)"||—||non-album single|
Awards and nominations
Countdown Australia Music Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1983||"Australiana"||Best Debut Single||Nominated|
|1984||"Phantom Shuffle"||Best Male Performance in a Video||Nominated|
ARIA Music Awards
The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that commenced in 1987 and recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music. Austen Tayshus has been nominated for four awards.
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1987||Do the Pope*||ARIA Award for Best Comedy Release||Nominated|
|1995||Alive and Schticking||Nominated|
|1996||"I'm Jacques Chirac"||Nominated|
- Fitzgerald, Ross; Murphy, Rick (2011). Austen Tayshus: The Merchant of Menace. Hale & Iremonger.
- Fitzgerald, Ross (29 December 2012). "Austen Tayshus sends a postcard from the edge". The Australian. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Down Under comedian brings show to Israel
- "Sandy Gutman aka Austen Tayshus" at Q&A
- "Australiana by Austen Tayshus". The Mad Music Archive. Mad Music Productions, LLC. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 February 2010. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- "history of Austen Tayshus". austentayshus. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- Comedian Austen Tayshus to contest Tony Abbott
- http://candidates.elections.nsw.gov.au/default.aspx Archived 11 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Australian chart peaks:
- Top 100 (Kent Music Report) peaks to 12 June 1988: Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 306. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid-1983 and 12 June 1988.
- Top 100 (ARIA Charts peaked to 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
- "Austen Tayshus ARIA Awards search". ARIA Awards. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "A rare genius for burning bridges" by Jack Marx, The Australian (4 June 2011)