By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 06, 2011 at 1:01 PM

If Conan O'Brien was edgy during the 32-city tour he launched during his imposed TV hiatus, and he clearly was, then he understands how we feel watching "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," an 83-minute documentary that screens Thursday, Sept. 8 at UWM's Union Theater.

Admission to the 7 p.m. screening is free.

After a 22-year relationship with NBC, O'Brien came to a deal with the network to return "The Tonight Show" to Jay Leno that led to a big payout but also a ban on TV, radio and the Internet for six months.

So, Conan – filled with a pulsating anger that he couldn't shake – decided to hit the road, doing more than 40 music and comedy shows in 32 cities. And director Rodman Flender was there from the beginning.

We see O'Brien plotting the tour, then prepping for it. He's a high-strung dude and what can be uncomfortable for viewers is watching O'Brien's sort of "passive aggressive criticism as comedy" at work with those around him.

Sometimes we can't tell if he's messing around of really being a jackass to his assistant and others. But O'Brien is conscious of it and even talks about briefly, tossing a snarky comment at his wife as an example.

Of course, O'Brien is also a funny guy who seems to almost never turn it off. He's always on; always quipping, always jesting. But even for a guy like that the rigors of the road are trying. He misses his kids and he's exhausted by the logistics. Then there are the Coco devotees.

Conan has an extremely devoted fan base and at every show there are fans, and there are friends of friends, and there are moms and sisters and cousins of his band members. There is media and there are celebs popping in. For more than a month, O'Brien smiles at them all and signs autographs for some he even sees only through a window. He makes small talk, he says thank you, he poses for pictures.

When the last one is out and the door is closed, he vents at his staff for putting him in the position of having to do what he suggests is akin to giving away his soul. When a lot of these folks were pulling out their credit cards and helping the shows sell out in minutes, he didn't fear for the state of his soul.

But Conan really is a likable guy, and we know what happened with Leno and NBC and we learned early in the film that O'Brien isn't over it. And we can sympathize even when he's snarky because Flender does a great job capturing the stresses of the road.

In the end, "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" reminds us that O'Brien is human, like us. But, unlike most of us, he's also funny as hell.

Also screening for free this week at UWM's Union Theater, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., is "Mozart's Sister," a romantically imagined film, in French with English subtitles, by director Rene Feret. It shows Friday, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m.

Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari's "Attenberg" makes its Milwaukee premiere this weekend (the other two films above are also making their debuts here), Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5 and 9:15 and Sunday at 3 and 7:15 p.m. Admission for "Attenberg" is $6, $5 for UWM faculty, staff and alumni association members, and $4 for UWM students.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.