Rannazzisi talks about role on ‘The League’

Whether it is on stage, on the TV or even on the phone, comedian Steve Rannazzisi is not shy to make a joke.

Rannazzisi started his life in comedy when he moved to Los Angeles in 2001 from New York City. He was noticed by Ashton Kutcher while performing at The Comedy Store and was later cast on the practical joke show “Punk’d” for one year in 2003.

Rannazzisi then had cameos on several TV sitcoms until he got his big break on “The League,” a comedy about a fantasy football league.

Rannazzisi has some experience playing fantasy football, which helped with the character he portrays.

“I played fantasy with a bunch of my buddies from high school, so it was nice to have some background playing a character that is mostly improvised,” Rannazzisi said.

“The League” finished up its fourth season in December with Rannazzisi playing the lead character and creator of the fictional fantasy football league, Kevin McArthur.

Rannazzisi said he plays the most relatable character on the show with he and Kevin both being married with two kids.

“The League” has had some noticeable NFL players on the show, including 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Chad Johnson and 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III.

Rannazzisi, a New York Giants fan, said he would love to get Eli Manning or Justin Tuck to come on the show but said it is tough to coordinate with players’ bye weeks since they film during the season.

Fantasy football has a huge fan base, so when you make a show out of it, it’s likely to become a hit, he said.

Rannazzisi said he gets a lot of random grown-up guys coming up to him to talk about fantasy football or taking pictures.

“We (the cast) all knew how popular fantasy football was, but I don’t think we knew how much. It’s almost as big as football is now,” he said.

Rannazzisi said he has had some very brutal memories performing stand-up: most notably when he was performing on the border of Texas and Mexico.

“Nobody told me that none of the audience spoke English,” he said. “So I had to tell my jokes to a bunch of people who had no idea what I was saying.”

On how he prepares to go on stage, Rannazzisi joked that he does prayer circles and trust falls, but what he really does is drink water and, before he quit smoking, he would smoke a cigarette.

“I am taking a week off in between shows to go to the Super Bowl in New Orleans,” he said.

Rannazzisi picked the Ravens to win since he had the all-pro linebacker and ASU alumni Terrell Suggs on the show in the second season.

Rannazzisi is currently on tour and will be coming to Phoenix to perform at Stand Up Live for Feb. 7 through Feb. 10. Tickets can be purchased for $20 on Standuplive.com. Attendees must be at least 18 years old.

Catch Steve Rannazzisi on “The League” coming back for its fifth season in fall 2013.

Reach the reporter at drosenbl@asu.edu.