In his first interview since tweeting an apology for lying about having been in the World Trade Center during the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, comedian Steve Rannazzisi said the fabrication was not premeditated.
"To be honest with you, it was a completely out-of-the-blue situation," Smithtown native Rannazzisi, 37, told Howard Stern on the radio personality's Sirius XM show Tuesday. "It wasn't calculated."
He added, "It's not like I moved to Los Angeles with this story, with the thought of 'I'm going to go out and trick everyone out there and tell them this is what it is.' "
Since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Rannazzisi had told people he worked at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower when the planes hit.
Rannazzisi, who plays assistant district attorney and fantasy-league commissioner Kevin MacArthur on the FXX series "The League," said his wife Tracy abetted him in the falsehood, which they continued to repeat after the first instance for fear of losing face.
"She had to," he maintained. "She had no choice."
Rannazzisi said that his wife was working at the nearby World Financial Center on the day of the attacks, and that her experience influenced him to say he had been working in the south tower as well.
He told Stern: "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."
On Sept. 16, as The New York Times revealed the lie, Rannazzisi said in a tweeted apology, "As a young man, I made a mistake that I deeply regret and for which apologies may still not be enough.
"I don't know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry," he added.
Rannazzisi has not commented on Twitter since, except to promote the appearance on Stern's show.