The man who knew too much


There are few comics with the tenacity and killer instinct of Austen Tayshus. The comedy superstar who first came into being in 1981 has the ability to take a room hostage just with his tongue. He’s the closest thing the Australian comedy scene has to its very own Bill Hicks. Topical, dangerous, irreverent, he’s the high priest of satire, unflappable and relentless. Every Austen show is unique. He has the ability to weave current politics, what’s happening in the room, philosophy, anthropology, religion and, of course sport, and let’s not forget the pope, into one gag. The Echo spoke with the comedic high priest of controversy to find out just what makes him tick… or ticks him off.

If I had an hour alone with Donald Trump I would tell him how great I am, how I avoid paying tax, how politicians are all full of shit, how funny I am, how that hair is fucked, and how full of shit he is and how I should be president instead of him because I would make hundreds of commitments that I would not honour.

Something that people don’t know about me is that I am a deep thinker. My shows are really transformative and redemptive. They rely on an audience’s adaptive capability in dealing with a multitude of alternative realities. The resemblance to historical anecdote remains the singular modality of which I am most conscientiously proudest.

If I had the chance again I would drive for Uber or Islam. Or both.

When I offend people I seem to offend those who really want to be offended. Good luck to them!

The weirdest gig I have done was recently in the town of Tumbarumba. I asked the audience if they knew of the actor Scene Connery. In unison – they were mostly Scottish – they screamed, ‘it’s not Scene, it’s Shawn’. They didn’t stop screaming until they had chased me out of town. I knew what it was like to be a frightened Jew in a German town in the 1930s.

Being super rich is no longer just a dream.

The pope really needs to stop chasing young boys and chill out.

My perfect day would include a lot of Thai women.

When I am not on stage I am either barking like a dog or upsetting Nicole Kidman. I say to her Giveitaway giveitaway giveitaway now!

The movie I have loved most is Bad Day at Black Rock.

The movie I hated most was Triumph of the Will.

The biggest dickhead I met last year was Peter Fitzsimons.

If I had my own TV show, Wil Anderson would not be on it. Wil he just go away!

I am proudest of my ability to improvise on stage. I have concentrated on developing this skill for the last 40 years and last night I nailed it. Wil Anderson gives me the shits.

You should come to my show, because if you don’t the room will have one less person.

Austen Tayshus appears with Mandy Nolan at the Byron Services Club on Monday 9 January. Doors 7pm. Show 8pm. Tickets $20/25 at the club or online at


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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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