Why did Steve Rannazzisi lie about surviving 9/11? It's a complicated question, one that Rannazzisi himself had trouble answering during a 40-minute interview with Howard Stern that doubled as an intense therapy session. As he told it, the lie was just a spur-of-the-moment mistake that spiraled staggeringly out of control. "It wasn't calculated at all," he told Stern. "It was as simple as sitting at the Comedy Store and everyone [being] like, 'Hey, you're from New York?' 'Yeah.' 'Were you just there? You were around?' 'Yeah, I was downtown.' 'You worked there?' 'Yeah, I did.'" At that point, he said, it was too late: "You have like 15 seconds to go, 'Wait, hold on, stop, wait, I'm sorry, that's not true.' And if you pass that 15 seconds, now it becomes a thing where you're like — 'Now I have to be the guy who is very strange and weird and just said I lied about 9/11.'"
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Steve Rannazzisi, comedian who lied about being in the WTC
Steve Rannazzisi tried to explain his 9/11 lie to Howard Stern
SUNLAND, CA - JULY 24: Actor Steve Rannazzisi attends the 2nd annual Hall Of Fame Golf Invitational benefiting The Young Warriors Foundation at Angeles National Golf Club on July 24, 2015 in Sunland, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Actor Steve Rannazzisi attends the 2015 FX Bowling Party at Lucky Strike on April 22, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 02: Steve Rannazzisi and wife Tracy Rannazzisi at DIRECTV Super Saturday Night Featuring Special Guest Justin Timberlake & Co-Hosted By Mark Cuban's AXS TV on February 2, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for DirecTV)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 20: Actor Steve Rannazzisi arrives at the 2014 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour - FOX All-Star Party at Soho House on July 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 03: Actor Steve Rannazzisi attends an evening with 'The League' at The Paley Center for Media on October 3, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - APRIL 15: Steve Rannazzisi performs at The Stress Factory Comedy Club on April 15, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 27: Comedian Steve Rannazzisi performs during his appearance at The Ice House Comedy Club on October 27, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Michael Schwartz/WireImage)
Comedian Steve Rannazzisi onstage during The Kims of Comedy at HBO & AEG Live's 'The Comedy Festival' 2007 at Caesars Palace on November 15, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
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At the end of the segment, Rannazzisi also took the time to apologize one more time to the friends and families of people who actually died on that day. "I know what I did was terrible. And I know that I hurt a lot of people," he told Stern. "In my heart I feel awful that my dumb mistake created this story that hit a wound that should never have been touched."