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.'"
At the end of the segment, Rannazzisi also took the time to apologize once again 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."