A comedian who has been on a roll lately found himself mired in a storm of controversy after word surfaced that his account of surviving 9/11 was a lie.
The New York Times reports that Steve Rannazzisi, who stars on the FXX series “The League” and has a one-hour special coming up Saturday on Comedy Central, admitted that he lied about being caught up in the terrorist attack.
Rannazzisi “has frequently attributed [his success] to decisions he made after narrowly escaping the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” The Times reports. “In elaborate detail, Mr. Rannazzisi, 37, has described working at Merrill Lynch’s offices on the 54th floor of the south tower when the first plane struck the north tower.”
Rannazzisi said in a 2009 interview: “I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were like jostled all over the place.”
He talked about fleeing into the street, suffering from bad dreams in the aftermath of the attack, and using the event as motivation to pursue his dream of a career in entertainment.
“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,” The Times reports. “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.”
In a statement released by his publicist, Rannazzisi said: “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.”
Rannazzisi has recently been seen as the face of an ad campaign for Buffalo Wild Wings. In a statement issued Tuesday night, the company said: “We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001. We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”
Here’s a clip of Rannazzisi’s stand-up posted this week by Comedy Central: