'The League' Star Steve Rannazzisi Apologizes, Reveals Backstory Behind 9/11 Lie
By Sophie Schillaci
Steve Rannazzisi is coming clean.
Weeks after the The League actor admitted to lying about narrowly escaping the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, he appeared on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show on Tuesday to apologize and set the record straight on what happened.
Rannazzisi admitted that he was pressured into revealing his story after receiving a call from a New York Times reporter.
"I don't know how they figured it out," he said. "It was a complete out of the blue situation."
The comic revealed that his story originated 14 years ago, while he was struggling to adapt to his new life in Los Angeles, California, and -- more specifically -- while performing stand-up at The Comedy Store.
"It's not like I moved to Los Angeles with this story, with the thought of, 'I'm gonna go out and trick everyone out there and tell them this is what it is.' It wasn't calculated at all," he said. "Sitting at The Comedy Store and people being like, 'You were just there at 9/11? You were there? You worked there?' And it's like, 'Yeah, I did.'
"You have like 15 seconds, I think, to kind of go, 'Wait, hold on. I'm sorry, that's not true,'" he continued. "If you pass that 15 seconds, it becomes a thing where now I have to be the guy who is very strange and weird and say, 'I lied about 9/11' ... I wish I had that voice that I feel like I have now that said, 'Hey man, take a breath, relax. People are gonna like you and will understand who you are when they know you. You don't need to lie. Take that back.'"
"All of them, and I can’t thank them enough for their support, said, 'We know you are [sorry] and know it is not indicative of who you are,'" Rannazzisi recalled.
Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson, whose firefighter father died in the 9/11 attacks, publicly came to Rannazzisi's defense last month. "Take it easy on @SteveRannazzisi," he tweeted. "He reached out to me and is truly sorry. We all sometimes lie and exaggerate a story to seem cooler."
"We spoke that day and I apologized to him," Rannazzisi said, "and you know, the thing that he said to me was, 'Well, obviously people make mistakes. I'm 21 and will make a ton, but the one thing I want to make sure -- I am the 9/11 comedian. You are not the 9/11 comedian, I want to make sure you understand that.'
"I can’t even say thank you enough to Pete Davidson," Rannazzisi added. "To be so young and so understanding of people making mistakes. To me, that guy is top notch."
In his interview, Rannazzisi also spoke directly to Stern's New York listeners.
"I know that I hurt a lot of people -- people that lost people, people that helped people survive, and those people, those are the people that I truly am sorry," he said. "That's why I wanted to come on here, because I wanted to talk to you and your audience. You are personified with New York, and your audience, those are the people I truly in my heart feel awful that my dumb mistake created a story that just hit a wound that should never have been touched."