The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus


The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus


The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus


Johnny’s serving up some red hot entertainment on campus



Almost everyone goes around campus and sees certain people who are almost complete strangers.  You may have a vague idea of what they do.  Maybe you smile at them, say, “Hi” and are friendly because you’ve been around campus for a while, but you still don’t really know who these people are.

This was what sparked the decision for the Department of Theatre Chair Dr. John Mayer to create his own television show here on campus— aptly named “Johnny’s Stanislaus Red Hots.”

“The idea being we would just sit over lunch and eat Chicago style hot dogs and just informally chat with one another,” Mayer said.  “These people have interesting stories.”

Mayer begins his 15th year at CSU Stanislaus this semester, but he was originally from Chicago, where most of his friends and family still live. Hot dogs, Chicago-style pizza, Italian beef—  this bonafide Chicago cuisine was what he grew up on.

“It had always been my dream to own a hot dog stand, and since I ended up doing what I’m doing, I’m not going to own one, so this is the hot dog stand I always wanted to have,” Mayer said.  “And I’m John, but you don’t want ‘John’s Hot Dog Stand.’  You know, it’s ‘Johnny’s.’”

The name of the show comes from the Chicago term for hot dogs.

“Particularly if you go to a Cubs game, they’re called ‘Red Hots,’” Mayer said.

After appearing on his friend’s podcast in Los Angeles this past summer, the idea for creating a show of his own struck Mayer.

“A few days later I woke up, literally in the middle of the night, and it was an absolute epiphany.  And I just said, ‘I’m gonna start a T.V. show on campus. It’s gonna be an interview show.  And it’s gonna be set in a Chicago-style hot dog stand,’” Mayer said.  “It was not like I just had the idea; it was like I knew the format.  It was like, there it was.”

The purpose for Johnny’s Stanislaus Red Hots is to get to know the unsung heroes on campus.

“I have a lot of respect for those people,” Mayer said.  “So here’s a way for me to enjoy their company. One, to shine a light on them— a light that’s probably rarely if ever shined on them —and to say, ‘You know what?  You’re something special.  And I want people to know that.’”

The guests fill out a questionnaire beforehand so he knows a little bit about them.

He knows some directions to go in, but the interview is kept informal.  He wants to keep it very casual in order to let his guests relax and forget about the cameras.

“Essentially, the people we invite as guests are just people I would like to have lunch with,” Mayer said.

Each show will be half an hour in length and consist of two parts, divided by a short intermission in which theater students will present sketch comedy commercials.

The plan is to have one episode put out every week.  Currently in process now, there will be a website created and a Facebook page, which will allow marathon binge-watching.

Footers in Turlock will be helping out and supporting the show for the next few weeks by providing the hot dogs.

With the help of set designer Bo Henry, Mayer has created himself an authentic-looking Chicago-style hot dog stand.

“It’s everything I wanted it to be,” Mayer said.  “I can’t wait ‘til that day when somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I’ve seen your show’ or ‘I heard about your show – I really want to be on. Can I be a guest?’”

Mayer believes that his guests make, in some small way, our lives better and easier.  People take it for granted— but with Johnny’s Stanislaus Red Hots, these unsung heroes will have the chance to shine.

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Johnny’s serving up some red hot entertainment on campus