Edith Vale and Maureen McGillicuddy – the alter egos of Melbourne comics Thomas Jaspers and Kyle Minall – are irreverent grannies with a wicked sense of humour. Matthew Wade caught up with them to chat about Melbourne, their LGBTI fans, and baking a ‘vote No’ cake.
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Maureen: I was born in Tittybong near Swan Hill, but my dear dad got a job in Melbourne which moved our family to Collingwood in 1939 when I was 11. It has changed so much since then. Collingwood used to be full of dirty, scruffy, old plonko drunks, but now it’s full of dirty, fashionable, young plonko drunks.
You’ve got a large LGBTI following. Is that something you were always aware of?
M: I thought it was a joke when someone told us because I’d never heard the term before. I thought it might be some sort of liver complaint, I remember thinking, “That’s the last thing I need”.
Edith: We’re quite okay with it because we spoke to the Real Housewives of Melbourne and they said it’s great because you can tap into something called the ‘pink dollar’.
I recall you baking a No cake last year during the postal survey. How was that received?
E: Yes, we’ve always felt that a political message is best presented on baked goods. Kim Beazley taught us that many years ago.
M: That’s true – after the war I got a job working in a bakery and someone once ordered a cake that caused a bit of a stir for the communist party. My suggestion is: if you’re going to put a hammer and sickle on top of a cake, make sure it’s a very thick sponge.
Do your LGBTI fans often reach out to you?
M: They’re always reaching and touching and screaming place names like ‘Yass’ and ‘hunty’ which I presume is short for Huntingdale. Very strange.
You’ve been running a wildly successful bingo night in Melbourne every month. What drew you to do that?
M: Bingo brought us together as friends and as we get older, our wise old eyes don’t miss much. There’s so many awful things in the news and in the paper and we just hated that people of all ages were living in such a confusing time. We thought bingo might bring back some nice memories for us, and also give people a few hours a month away from all the yuckiness out there and just have some fun.
Can you recall a particularly memorable moment from one of the bingo nights?
E: A couple of years ago we had a group of young ladies with short haircuts. I’m not sure what the politically correct term is for them?
M: Yes voters.
E: Oh yes, thanks love – Yes voters. Well they must have been having a really good time because none of them had noticed that their menu had caught alight on the tea light candle which then spread and set fire to the table. We had to evacuate the audience.
M: They’re wonderful people, the lesbians, but they’re not very good with fire safety. I think it comes from a lifetime of wearing flannelette.
What can audiences expect from your bingo events?
E: Lots of laughs, a couple of songs, and a meat tray of course.
M: We also love having our special celebrity guests on. We’ve had Joel Creasey, Chrissie Swan, and Patti Newton to name a few, but we know that people are really there to see us.
Do you have a message for our LGBTI readers?
M: While we don’t think what you do is normal… we can’t really put into words what normal actually is anymore, so celebrate who you are every day and don’t be ashamed of it.
Edith and Maureen host a monthly ‘Granny Bingo’ night in Collingwood. For details and to buy tickets, visit them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/grannybingo