Take 5 editor Paul Merrill among first Pitch2Punchline stand-ups

The editor of real-life magazine Take 5 is among the first batch of confirmed stand-ups for the Pitch2Punchline comedy challenge at the Sydney Opera House.

Defiant Paul Merrill joked: “People have been laughing behind my back for years – so laughing at me from my front might even things up a bit.”

He’ll be joined by Pedestrian partnerships manager Kath Solly and Starcom account executive Anthony Wong. Mumbrella CEO, Martin Lane, will also be performing.

Take 5 editor Paul Merrill winning big at Mumbrella’s Publish Awards

The event, which raises funds for mental health charity Batyr, will see TV comedian and presenter Cam Knight mentor 20 brave applicants for six weeks before they perform at a gala event in front of 300 of their industry peers.

The training is set to begin on 15 April. Details on ticket pricing will be released soon, but if you would like to register your interest to perform, watch or become a sponsor, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Paul Merrill has become one of the magazine business’ biggest names since launching now-defunct lads’ publication Zoo in the UK in 2004 and then in Australia two years later.

His acclaimed career autobiography, A Polar Bear Ate My Head: Misadventures in Magazines, details bizarre anecdotes from his time at Zoo, including running a competition to find the country’s randiest grandmother, losing 130,000 pairs of inflatable breasts in the South China Sea and a search for the hottest horse dentist.

In 2013, he was made editor of real-life title Take 5, and led it to be crowned publication of the year at Mumbrella’s Publish Awards.

Merrill said: “I want to do something remembered for the wrong reasons. This will go down as one of the seminal moments in Sydney Opera House history. In future, they’ll speak of the greats who have appeared there: Nelson Mandela, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr and Paul Merrill.

“Of course, I’ve got a treasure trove of other people’s real-life stories, but not my own. Take 5 is a magazine about people doing extraordinary, crazy and ridiculous things, after all. I’ll have to hope lots of funny and amusing things happen to me in the next few months.

I’m also hoping my media enemies turn up on the front row. I’ll make a note of who’s laughing and who isn’t.

Pedestrian’s Kath Solly (left) and Starcom’s Anthony Wong (right) 

Meanwhile, Pedestrian partnerships manager Kath Solly will be taking inspiration from her second job as a kids’ entertainer.

“At weekends, I’m a clown or princess. I perform magic and comedy skits with children, so I’ve wanted to explore stand-up for a while. I thought this was the perfect way to align my nine-to-five with my side hustle.

“Kids are the most honest critics. Sometimes you do a joke that goes over their heads, but you have to laugh through it.

“Maybe I’ll explore how working in media is like working with children?”  

Finally, Starcom account executive Anthony Wong enjoys writing jokes and thinks his sharp tongue will be his most valuable tool on stage.

“Work is work, but I wanted to do something outside of my job and this popped up. I’ve always had an interest in comedy and this seemed like a great opportunity to take the piss out of the media.”

Click to find out more about Pitch2Punchline

The event is the brainchild of Shambles Communications and Pitch2Punch founder Gareth Eden-Styche, and will raise funds for mental health charity Batyr.

The organisation – named after an infamous talking elephant in Kazakstan – is unique as it aims to pro-actively prevent depression and anxiety by encouraging sufferers to reach out for support despite the stigma of doing so.

The charity sends trained speakers into schools, universities and workplaces to share their experiences of living with, and overcoming, the illness.

It estimates that of every 30 young people in Australia, seven will be dealing with depression or anxiety – but only two will seek help.

“We’re looking for stand-out stand-ups from every corner of our creative world,” said Eden-Styche. “We welcome people of any age or level of experience. So if you work for a fancy media provider, an infamous creative agency, an enormous media buyer, a local digital hot-house or something nobody has ever heard of, register today.”

Successful candidates won’t be thrown in at the deep end but instead receive training by actor, presenter and comedian Cam Knight, who has performed at the Sydney Opera House himself.

Knight’s stellar CV has seen him appear on Seven, Nine, Ten and the ABC. In 2008, he was nominated for an AACTA for Best Male Presenter.

Applications close on 28 March, and you’ll perform at the 300-seater venue The Studio within the Sydney Opera House, which has also hosted singers Marcia Hines, Courtney Act and Matthew Herbert.

To register your interest to get on stage or buy tickets, fill out the form below or visit For sponsorship opportunities, email sales director Victoria Seymour on

Register your interest for Pitch2Punchline



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