Turn your radio to 107.1 FM (HOT 107) on any weekday morning and you can catch St. Albert’s Lisa Evans in the middle of her act.
The former regular of the St. Albert Children’s Theatre is the new full-time co-host of HOT 107’s morning show, Ryder in the Morning. Along with host Ryder, who goes by the single moniker, and producer Travis Bretzer, she acts out skits and tries to make the early commute a little more bearable.
“All right, this is Lisa Evans in HOT 107’s traffic chopper,” Evans yells over the helicopter sound effects, clearly still in the studio.
“What do you see, Lisa?” Ryder asks.
“The cars look like bugs!” she replies.
“I was in theatre since I was a little girl,” Evans, now 24, says. “It’s kind of weird because the rest of my family wasn’t into that kind of thing, but I was always a little different. I tried out when I was six and the theatre said I was too young, so I went back year after year until I was accepted at nine. I ended up doing it until I was 20.”
Evans loved entertaining people and is still fondly remembered by Janice Flowers, the artistic director of the children’s theatre.
“Lisa had a huge personality,” Flowers says of the former St. Albert Catholic High School student. “She had a great sense of humour. I remember her playing Babette in our production of Beauty and the Beast and nailing it.”
Evans says her path to HOT 107 started in 2009 when she joined the social network Twitter under the handle of @squeeb_slayer.
“One of my friends showed it to me,” she says. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is really stupid.’ ”
Despite her misgivings, Evans fell in love with the site. She used it as an outlet to spout whatever jokes came to mind and to complain about the awkwardness of relationships and life.
“It was a way for me to post random thoughts and blow off steam when I was frustrated. People said I was weird, but I think they secretly found my tweets relatable. Everybody feels awkward sometimes.”
Evans’ irreverent and occasionally crude tweets gained traction on Twitter. To date she has more than 6,000 followers including Andy Lassner, the executive producer of The Ellen Show. At one point @squeeb_slayer was gaining 100 followers a day.
Evans was becoming famous and no one even knew her name.
“I was meeting a friend at O’Mailles in St. Albert one night and it was pretty late,” said Evans. “All of these guys were standing outside smoking when I heard, ‘Is that @squeeb_slayer?’ ” I put my head down and just ran inside. It was so weird.”
The popularity of her Twitter feed landed Evans a spot in the web series The Gym in the role of Cross-Fit Carly. To promote the series, the writers of the show asked her to make a rap video in character for YouTube.
“The video has 30,000 views and probably 80 per cent dislikes,” Evans says. “I’d never done anything like that before and people were so mean in the comments. I think a lot of cross-fitters were offended by the joke.”
The experience taught Evans how to deal with negative feedback. It was the first time Evans had written a rap and the joke seemingly offended a lot of people.
The rap wasn’t a big hit but the series was successful. The Gym won multiple web awards and encouraged Evans that she could have a career in making people laugh.
“One of my biggest inspirations was Jenna Marbles. People would say I reminded them of her and it made me think I could do what she does.”
Jenna Mourey, more commonly known by her pseudonym Jenna Marbles, runs a popular YouTube channel and hosts a countdown show on SiriusXM.
Evans knew after The Gym that she wanted to be in entertainment but wasn’t sure how to break in.
Evans was tending bar one night, when one of her friends suggested she contact Ryder, the radio host of Ryder in the Morning on Hot 107.
Evans looked him up and found out he was already following her on Twitter.
“I messaged him and he was like, ‘You’re funny, let’s make this work,’ so I came in on his recommendation and they gave me a spot on the Street Team.”
Evans joined the station in October and aired her first skit that month.
“Ryder came up to me one day and said, ‘Write a rant,’ so I did. I wrote about pumpkin spice and how much it sucks and why is there so much of it around as soon as the leaves start falling off the trees? It was dumb but funny.”
What started as one skit grew into a few skits a week, and then a bit on a show, and finally a co-host spot on the morning show. By August Evans was co-hosting five mornings a week with Ryder and Travis.
“It was hard when I first got started,” she says. “People feel a real personal connection to their favourite radio jock so it’s hard to be accepted by the audience when you’re new. For a few months I wanted to give up because the commentators were so mean.
“On the other hand, whenever I saw a comment about how I brightened someone’s day … I can’t even describe it. I would do this job for free.”
Evans isn’t joking. She worked for months at HOT 107 before drawing a cheque because the experience was so positive. Evans considers it her internship.
“Ryder has been so supportive of me. One of the first times I met him he told me, ‘Lisa, if you can have a job where you make people smile every day you should take it. It’s the best experience in the world.’ I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”
Evans has a million plans for future skits and projects. She’s working with Travis and Ryder to put together a podcast and wants to try her hand in stand-up comedy.
“Stand-up is on my bucket list. I’ve been working on a routine where I go to the drug store for some embarrassing items and all of the anxiety that comes with that. It’s something I have to do.”
Last month HOT 107’s parody rap group, Edmonton LRT (for Lisa, Ryder, and Travis), released a song with the Juno award winning rapper Classified. It’s a big step up from the days of Cross-Fit Carly.
“There’s this really cynical saying that it’s all about who you know but that isn’t right. It’s about who you get to know. Make the most of every meeting and brighten the room. Let people know who you are. Tech stuff can always be learned, but you need to have spunk and be willing to put yourself out there.
“This has to be something you would do for free.”