Comic Steve Rannazzisi admits 9/11 lie: ‘A story told by an immature young man’

Steve Rannazzisi has admitted he lied about being in one of the Twin Towers when it was hit on Sept. 11, 2001.

Steve Rannazzisi has admitted he lied about being in one of the Twin Towers when it was hit on Sept. 11, 2001.

(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)
Share via

Steve Rannazzisi came clean Wednesday about a big lie he’d been living: The comic did not escape from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Wow. Comedy’s about timing, and this mea culpa appears to be well-timed on Rannazzisi’s part: Less than a week after the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, and only days ahead of “The League” actor’s new special premiering on Comedy Central.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour >>


“As a young man, I made a mistake that I deeply regret and for which apologies may still not be enough,” the 37-year-old husband and father wrote on Facebook and in a series of tweets.

“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 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. I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.

“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 when I hadn’t come clean about this?”

(Incidentally, Rannazzisi’s upcoming special is called “Breaking Dad.” So, yeah, kids.)

“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,” he said in closing.

Rannazzasi was, according to the New York Times, recently confronted with evidence that undermined his story. Merrill Lynch has no record he ever worked for the company, said the paper, which also noted he was working in midtown Manhattan the day of the attack.

Pete Davidson, who at 21 is a couple of years younger than Rannazzisi was at the time of his lie, slammed his fellow comic after the admission before the two managed to connect.


“It’s ok @SteveRannazzisi people make mistakes ... Can’t wait to meet my dad for lunch later,” the “Saturday Night Live” player tweeted an hour after the admission went up.

Davidson’s father, of course, was a New York City firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001, a fact that is known to those who’ve seen his stand-up.

Comedy Central told the Interrobang on Wednesday that the network had just learned about the lie on Tuesday night and hadn’t yet decided the fate of “Breaking Dad.”

“We are very disappointed to hear about Steve’s misrepresentations and are currently determining how we will move forward,” Steve Albani, senior VP for communications, told the comedy-focused website.

The comic’s wish about making the story go away with silence doesn’t quite jibe with his retelling of the tale over the years: Rannazzisi can be seen sharing his 9/11 experience in detail to Pauly Shore for a segment on Showtime’s “Pauly Shore and Friends” in 2009.

With his wife Tracy Rannazzisi holding his 2-week-old baby at his side, he told Shore where he’d been the day of the attacks: “Fifty-fourth floor of the south tower.”


“So, you were in the second tower,” Shore replied. “Is that insane, you guys? This guy was in the second tower of 9/11. This isn’t like we’re doing some joke ... this is real.”

Rannazzisi continued: “And then the first tower got hit by the plane, and we felt it in the second tower.”

“So where was she?” Shore asked, gesturing toward Tracy.

“She worked on the 24th floor of the same tower and I didn’t know if she was in to work yet, ‘cause she, I left before her,” the comic said. “So I went downstairs to see what’s going on, I walked outside, I see the fire and everything, and then I watched the second plane hit the second tower ... and then I ran. Ran ran ran ran ran, stopped, both of them fell.”

He then described walking back home to Brooklyn over the bridge and meeting up later with his wife, whom he said had been stuck on the subway. Watch it here.

Rannazzisi’s publicist told the New York Times that Tracy Rannazzisi had been scheduled to work as a temp that day in the nearby World Financial Center, not the south tower.

In a podcast interview with comic Marc Maron, Rannazzisi told the story similarly, adding a detail about a cabdriver asking him for $500 for the ride to Brooklyn and “these two brokers” jumping in front of him and hiring the cab, and explaining that after his then-girlfriend finally made it home after being out of touch for hours, they’d gone to the roof of their building, smoked a joint and decided to move to L.A.


Stunning photos, celebrity homes: Get the free weekly Hot Property newsletter >>

In the Maron interview, Rannazzisi said he’d been working as an account manager at Merrill Lynch.

Getting back to Davidson: About an hour after he’d slammed Rannazzisi and then declared that the whole story sucked because “he’s actually a funny comic and I love The League,” he let the world know the two comics had been in touch.

“Take it easy on @SteveRannazzisi ... He reached out to me and is truly sorry. We all sometimes lie and exaggerate a story to seem cooler ...,” Davidson tweeted. “Unfortunately this is a very touchy topic n very near n dear 2 peoples hearts.Its years later but he apologized n owned up 2 it like a man.”

Follow Christie D’Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs.



Blake Lively inadvertently disses Taylor Swift, then gushes over her

Justin Bieber shotguns beer like an amateur, blames higher education

Manu Bennett of ‘Arrow,’ ‘Hobbit,’ arrested after Alamo City Comic Con post-party incident