Ari Shaffir Interviews 9/11 Survivor in All-time Great Podcast Episode


Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank ep. 235 – First Responder w/ Cris Italia – In Depth


Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic  Tank is comedian Ari Shaffir’s podcast. Each episode, Ari talks to a guest about a specific topic and this episode was with Cris Italia, now a comedy club owner, who was a volunteer with a New York volunteer ambulance service whilst the 9/11 terror attacks took place in New York. This episode is so important, we couldn’t let it fade into obscurity without writing about it.  


The podcast begins with an opening monologue from Ari explaining where he was on September 11th 2001 and then he introduces Cris. The first part of the interview opens with Ari and Cris talking about Jews and Italians, how Cris ended up volunteering for his local volunteer ambulance service and how that job meant he ended up near the twin towers that day.


They then talk about the first part of Cris’ day on 9/11, the story of Cris’ friend Richie, Cris seeing the strike on the second tower, seeing people jumping from the towers, the rest of his volunteer ambulance core turning up as the second tower fell, the immediate clean-up operation in the hours after, finding a survivor, seeing a cop kill himself, collapsing after continuously working the clean-up operation into the day after the attack, leaving the caution zone set up by emergency services and trying to find his brother for a ride home. Next Ari and Cris talk about PTSD symptoms, how Cris got into the world of comedy, his work with autistic kids post-9/11, how he came to open a comedy club, people who helped him start to come to terms with his experience on 9/11 and controversial comedy.


As we said, this episode was just too good and too important to just let slip into the ether. It’s taken us a while to write this article simply because this episode is so tough to listen to. It’s tough to listen to the way that Cris talks about those days following 9/11 – tough to hear about the little details, the little personal experiences Cris remembers and recounts so well, that you don’t get from watching news footage of the attacks. One of the most telling things about this episode is the way Cris utters the phrase ‘fucked up’ many times, to describe many things, with obvious anguish in his voice. This isn’t the most fun podcast to listen to, you might not even learn anything too practical from it, yet it’s important. Listening to this episode has an air of listening to a piece of history and in our opinion, it’s one of the best podcast episodes ever recorded.


Length? 4 hrs 6.

Link? Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank is an audio-only podcast. HERE‘s a link to episode 235.