Comedian Who Said He Survived 9/11 Attacks Now Admits He Wasn't There

September 16th, 2015 6:36 PM

Apparently, former NBC News host Brian Williams isn't the only person with a faulty memory that embellishes events in his past. On Wednesday, comedian Steve Rannazzisi was forced to admit that all his tales of barely escaping the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York City were pure fiction.

According to an article written by reporter Serge Kovaleski for the New York Times, the 37-year-old comic has attributed much of his success to decisions he made after narrowly escaping the plane crashes that brought down the World Trade Center on that fateful day.

“In elaborate detail, the comedian has described working at Merrill Lynch’s offices on the 54th floor of the south tower when the first plane struck the north tower,” Kovaleski noted, quoting him as stating: “I was there, and then the first tower got hit, and we were like jostled all over the place.”

He fled to the street just minutes before another plane slammed into his building, he said, and decided then that life was too precious to waste opportunities, so he abandoned his New York desk job to pursue a career as an entertainer in Los Angeles.

“In 2003, he was noticed by actor Ashton Kutcher, who gave him his first TV role as a cast member on MTV’s Punk’d," a show that featured elaborate pranks aimed at Hollywood stars and other celebrities, Kovaleski stated.

Ten years later, he got a stand-up one-hour special entitled Steve Rannazzisi: Manchild on Comedy Central, which will air a new one-hour special called Breaking Dad on Saturday.

Nonetheless, he said, he remained affected by his memories of that day: “I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams,” he stated.

Since then, Rannazzisi has starred for seven seasons on the FX cable show entitled The League, a program with an ensemble cast that has followed the problems of members in a fantasy football league that have threatened to splinter the group.

Kovaleski then explained:

Confronted this week, though, with evidence that undermined his account, Mr. Rannazzisi, after a day of deliberation, acknowledged on Tuesday that his account was fiction.

Actually, he had been working in Midtown that day, and not for Merrill Lynch, which has no record of his employment and had no offices in either tower.

“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” he said in a statement provided by his publicist, Matthew Labov. “I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.”

As of Wednesday, it was unclear how Rannazzisi’s admission “might affect his standing with networks or sponsors, including Buffalo Wild Wings -- which had made him the face of an ad campaign associated with the start of this National Football League season and which had featured him in commercials last spring for March Madness.”

“We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001,” Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement Tuesday night. “We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”

Kovaleski also quoted Rannazzisi -- who declined requests for an interview – as saying in his statement that once he had lied, he could not figure out a way to undo the damage:

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?

It comes as no surprise that a fellow comic -- one whose father was a firefighter killed on 9/11 -- blasted Rannazzisi for lying about his presence during the terrorist attacks.

Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson mocked his fellow entertainer in a terse posting on the Twitter website: “It's ok, @SteveRannazzisi, people make mistakes. ... Can't wait to meet my dad for lunch later.”

However, the barbed joke went right over Rannazzisi’s head, who genuinely thought Davidson was being supportive.

Davidson was kinder in his response to the now-deleted tweet and even complimented Rannazzisi’s comedic style: “All kidding aside, this @SteveRannazzisi story sucks because he's actually a funny comic, and I love The League.”

The SNL entertainer went so far as to post this message: “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.”

Perhaps Rannazzisi can find a place on the liberal MSNBC cable television channel, where NBC newsman Brian Williams found a new home as a breaking news anchor after he was suspended for embellishing incidents that happened during his career.