Brother Billy Bob – 1986

During the mid-1980s, Mike Gauldin created the character of Brother Billy Bob Barnswallow, whose Bible Bonanza at Brentwood became a recurring sketch each year in the Northwest Arkansas Gridiron. This particular version runs close to 10 minutes, quite a long sketch by today’s Gridiron standards. But Gauldin could milk an audience for every bit of laughter they could give.

gauldin-uniform-1980s
Mike Gauldin, portraying a military figure during a mid-1980s Gridiron.

He worked as a desk editor at The Springdale News when he first became involved with Gridiron. Alongside the editing, he drew editorial cartoons for the paper. His sense of humor got the best of him, and he started writing sketches for Gridiron but was a little reticent about appearing on stage at first. That didn’t last long, as the video attests.

He later became director of information for the University of Arkansas and then press secretary for Gov. Bill Clinton in 1987. He went to Washington after Clinton won the presidency in 1992. Gauldin served as director of communications for the U.S. Department of Energy for two years before shifting to the same role for the U.S. Department of Interior for the next five years. Near the end of the Clinton administration, he moved to a public affairs role within the U.S. Geological Survey.

He returned to Gridiron in 2000s, portraying the cousin of Elmer Stufflebeam. He died of brain cancer in 2010, at the age of 55.