Steve Rannazzisi Explains Why He Lied About 9/11

"It wasn't calculated," he said.

ByABC News
October 6, 2015, 7:09 PM

— -- One month after news broke that comedian and "The League" star Steve Rannazzisi lied about escaping the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks, he explained to Howard Stern how the whole fiasco happened in the first place.

"It wasn't calculated," he said about telling the lie after moving to Los Angeles from New York. "There were waves of the story. At the beginning it was something that I said. Then I did some podcasts a couple years later. Since then, no one's ever talked about it."

Rannazzisi, 38, added that he's "becoming more aware" of why he lied as he speaks to people about the situation. He moved to the West Coast about a month after the attacks and said he "was hanging out at comedy clubs ... just trying to fit in." He also mentioned wanting people to like him.

"It was simple as sitting at the comedy store and everyone was like, 'Hey you're from New York? Were you just there?' [I said] 'Yeah.' 'You work there?' 'Yeah,'" he explained. "You have like 15 seconds to go, 'Hold on, stop, I'm sorry, that's not true.' If you pass that 15 seconds ... now I have to be the guy who's strange and weird."

The actor told Marc Maron in 2009 that "I worked on the 54th floor of the second tower" and got to the streets before the second plane hit.

The New York Times broke the news of his lie and reported in September that he actually worked in Midtown at the time. He said he has no idea how the Times figured out he lied, just that he wished he had the confidence then that he does now to know people would like him without the story.

Also, his girlfriend at the time in 2001 is now his wife and Rannazzisi said that she "had to" go along with the lie, as well.

"She had no choice," he said.

The comedian is seeing someone now for help and starting to figure out more about himself, but doesn't consider himself a liar.

"I know what I did was terrible. I know that I hurt a lot of people -- people that lost people, people that helped people survive. And those are the people that I am truly sorry. I feel awful," he said.

The only people he wants left out of the chaos he created are his children.

"You can yell at me, you can scream at me, you can berate me and I will sit there and listen to it but if anyone ever took something out on my kids, they don't deserve it," he said. "My kids don't know. They don't know why Daddy needs to be in his office on the phone or why Daddy's crying sometimes."

He added, "I don't' have to live with the lie anymore. I'm an idiot; I made a terrible mistake but this is not who I am and I'm going to move on beyond this."