Stephen Rannazzisi is an American actor and stand-up comedian who is best known for appearing as fantasy football league player Kevin MacArthur on the FXX sitcom 'The League'. He started his career as an improv comedian at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood before becoming a cast member on MTV's 'Punk'd'. He next became a series regular on 'Big Day' and had a recurring role on 'Samantha Who?', apart from making guest appearances on several television series. He also created and starred in the web comedy series 'Daddy Knows Best' in 2012-13. His short film credit includes ‘supporting roles in 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' and 'Imagine That', and a starring role in 'Avengers of Justice: Farce Wars'. He appeared on two standup specials on Comedy Central, titled 'Manchild' and 'Breaking Dad'. His career temporarily suffered after it was revealed that his claim of being on the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 was fabricated, but he recently appeared on the series 'Brews Brothers'.
Rise to Stardom
Since relocating to Los Angeles, Stephen Rannazzisi had maintained that he had first-hand experience of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and the decisions he took after that positively affected his career. He immediately realized that "life was too precious to waste opportunities", and soon after, left his desk job in New York to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a comedian. He took a job as a doorman at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard and during the day, took classes at The Groundlings.
In 2003, he was noticed by actor Ashton Kutcher who offered him a role on his MTV prank reality series 'Punk'd'. In the following years, he had a main role on 'Big Day', a recurring role on 'Samantha Who?', and played supporting roles in films like 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' and 'Imagine That'. He got his big break after being cast in the main role of Kevin MacArthur on FXX's (2) 'The League', which he portrayed in all seven seasons from 2009 to 2015.
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Controversies & Scandals
Stephen Rannazzisi first provided an elaborate account of how he narrowly escaped the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center during an interview with comedian Marc Maron on his 'WTF Podcast' in 2009. He mentioned that when the first plane hit the north tower, he was working as an account manager for Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower. Despite assurances from the Port Authority, he "went downstairs" to "check this thing out" for himself. He was standing underneath a giant overpass when the second plane hit the south tower. He described how people were "jostled all over the place" and added that he had "those falling dreams" for years. However, finding inconsistencies in his account, 'The New York Times' confronted him in September 2015, following which he publicly apologized through his publicist, admitting that he "was not at the Trade Center on that day" and that his account was fictional.
He was actually never employed by Merrill Lynch and was working in Midtown at the time. While he later told Howard Stern that the lie just "slipped out" and he had been trying ever since to undo the mistake he made as "an immature young man", he reiterated the story several times during other interviews as well. The revelation did not affect his role on 'The League', which was running its final season at the time, or his second Comedy Central special which was not cancelled, but Buffalo Wild Wings subsequently stopped airing commercials featuring him.
Family & Personal Life
Stephen Rannazzisi was born on July 4, 1977, in Smithtown, New York, United States. His parents owned a limousine service. He has a brother who became a Roman Catholic priest and a sister who became a special education teacher. For one year, he attended the Catholic St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, New York on Long Island, before leaving on "mutual decision" where neither party was sad. He later graduated from Smithtown High School in 1996. He had falsely claimed to have majored in theater and film from the State University of New York at Purchase, reputed for its performing arts courses, while he actually majored in communications from SUNY Oneonta.
Stephen Rannazzisi was in a relationship with his current wife, Tracy, long before they moved to Los Angeles. In fact, he had even included her in his elaborate lie, telling that she was scheduled to be on one of the towers, but was fortuitously delayed. However, she was at that time, a temp, in the financial district of Manhattan. He later told interviewers that she had no choice but to go with his lies. They got married in 2006 and have three children.