Comedian Steve Rannazzisi admitted this week that he lied about having escaped with his life from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
He said that he quit his desk job and became an entertainer due to that harrowing day, which had been completely made up.
The 37-year-old entertainer said he had been working at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower when a plane hit the north tower. He claimed that he had just escaped the tower when the second plane hit.
Rannazzisi fessed up after The New York Times confronted him with damning evidence that poked holes in his story. Merrill Lynch said there was no record of his employment nor did the company have offices in the World Trade Center, said the Times.
The comedian gave vivid detail about his "ordeal" in an interview with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast in 2009.
He told Marc Maron in 2009 that he had been working as an account manager at Merrill Lynch "until our building got hit by a plane...And the party ended right there. "
Rannazzisi's account was somewhat vague and his tone was conversational and without emotion. Somehow he got out of the building while his coworkers were upstairs. He called upstairs after the second plane hit and he said it was "pandemonium." Then he "booked" away from the scene.
"I had no idea what was going on until three hours into it. I thought it was two drunk idiots."
Maron asked, "How much did that fuck you up?"
Rannazzisi replied, "I still have dreams, falling dreams." He said his then girlfriend, now wife, worked on the 24th floor and he was worried about her until she walked in the door. He said she was on the subway and hadn't been in the building.
He added he and girlfriend went on the roof, smoked a joint and decided to get out of New York and that's what led him to move to Los Angeles to be an entertainer.
Maron chimed in with his memory of that day and how everything was quiet. He then said the day was "horrible" because his upstairs neighbor had been killed. Maron had gone upstairs because his ceiling was leaking and he walked in on a scene of terrified family members awaiting news of whether their mother was alive.
Rannazzisi cracked a joke about the leaky ceiling: "You gotta get the ceiling [fixed], there's water damage, mold — now who dies."
He admitted his lies in a written statement and in a long series of tweets. He had been working in Midtown manhattan that day, miles away from the tragedy.
“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” he said in a statement, according to The Times “I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.”
The FX Network issued a statement about the revelations:
“We are disappointed to learn that Steve Rannazzisi lied about being in the World Trade Center on 9/11. It is upsetting that he would fabricate a story about having survived that horrible tragedy. It is also unfortunate that he did not admit to the truth sooner. That said we believe Steve is sincere in his apology and will do everything he can to make amends moving forward.”
The comedian has achieved success in recent years by playing Kevin on the FX series The League, which is in its seventh and final season. According to FX, the season is almost finished shooting and there will be no change in the schedule.
After I moved with my wife to Los Angeles from New York City in 2001 shortly after 9/11, I told people that I was in one of the World Trade— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
Center towers on 9/11. It wasn’t true. I was in Manhattan but working in a building in midtown and I was not at the Trade Center on that day— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
For many years, more than anything, I have wished that, with
silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man.It only made me more ashamed. How could I tell my children to be honest— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
when I hadn't come clean about this?— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
it is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them--and the people that love me--that I ask for forgiveness.— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones. The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015
not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake.— Stephen Rannazzisi (@SteveRannazzisi) September 16, 2015