Comedian Recants 9/11 Tale
Rannazzisi has until recently told a harrowing tale of being on the 54th floor of the south tower in 2001, when the first plane struck the north tower.
The comedian recanted his story Sept. 16 through a statement and on Twitter after being confronted with evidence by the New York Times.
Rannazzisi had already backpedaled much of his story in recent years. The comedian had often spoke of working at the Merrill Lynch office on the 54th floor on Sept. 11.
“I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were, like, jostled all over the place,” he said on Marc Maron’s podcast in 2009. “I still have dreams of, like, you know, those falling dreams.” He added that he was outside the building when the second plane hit but “couldn’t tell exactly where it went in.” In 2011, while on the “Sklarbro Country” podcast, Rannazzisi said he had gotten a good severance package from Merrill Lynch, adding that 9/11 was a sensitive topic.
“I just don’t ever want to feel, like, anyone, I am cashing in or anything like that,” he said. His accounts of 9/11 – which have included a fabricated story that his girlfriend, now wife, was supposed to be working in the south tower that day but was delayed on her way to work – has become part of the fabric of his rise to fame. He said he decided that day life was too precious to waste and moved to Los Angeles to become an entertainer. That he did, hired by Ashton Kutcher to be a cast member of MTV’s “Punk’d” in 2003. From there he had several movie and TV roles, including playing a part in the “The League” on FXX.
His first Comedy Central special, “Steve Rannazzisi: Manchild,” aired in 2013 and his new special, “Breaking Dad,” is expected to debut Sept. 19. Rannazzisi backed away from his story in 2003, correcting Don Geronimo who suggested on his podcast that Rannazzisi was in the south tower.
I was outside, really,” he said. “I was working downtown at the time.” However, the New York Times noted even that story was “off,” and confronted Rannazzisi with evidence that Merrill Lynch had no record of his employment and didn’t even have an office in the WTC. Rannazzisi was actually working in Midtown that day, according to the NYT. Rannazzisi refused an interview with the newspaper but did issue a statement that said he wished he had never created the story but could not unring the bell, saying it was a bad choice made by “an immature young man.”
“It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones,” he told the Times. “The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake. All I can ask is for forgiveness.”
Rannazzisi is the face of an ad campaign by Buffalo Wild Wings, featured during March Madness and the start of the NFL season. The restaurant chain stated it was “disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations” and is “reevaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”