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Anna Nolan: I'm driven crazy by signs after M-way exit

I was driving around the country this week -- Belfast, Sligo and back to Dublin. I had a great time going through the north of the country. (This was before the Sligo/Roscommon match, so hard luck to Sligo! I know they had all fingers crossed).

But I experienced what has to be my pet hate on the road. It is one of those sights that makes me wonder if we need to bring in an idiocy test for those who design our roads. When I see it, I get very angry and tell myself I should write to the relevant authority.

And for visitors to the country, they must think us stupid.


Signposts on the motorway AFTER the turning you are supposed to take. I have tried to work out what imbecile thought it would be a great idea to have the sign for your destination, just after the exit, on that V-shaped grassy verge.

It means you either drive up to the exit slowly, try to read the sign and make a last-minute decision. Or you drive up at normal speed, see you are about to miss your exit and quickly take a sharp left turn. Both potentially lethal moves.

I have this crazy, out-there idea for future signage. Could the planners please put the sign on the side of the motor way BEFORE the exit. I know this is way-out thinking, but it might in fact stop an accident.

Hear the one about the funny comic? Me neither...

Have you ever laughed so much that your face aches, your stomach hurts and you cannot breathe?

I bet this moment was with friends, in a social setting, and it wasn't planned or anticipated.

Laughing is best done when you are part of it and when you contribute to the moment. Laughing with far surpasses laughing at, and this is why the idea of going to a comedy festival makes me want to curl up and cry.

When going to a concert to listen to music, or to the cinema to see a film -- one goes through a series of emotions. Like when I went to see The Frames at Electric Picnic a couple of years ago. I was moved to tears by one track, I was annoyed when they made us sing along to Star Star for ages, and then I was thrilled to be pogoing to another song.

But in comedy, the goal of the performer is to make me do one thing, and one thing only -- laugh.

This week sees the Carlsberg Comedy festival from Thursday to Sunday. The line-up is good -- Des Bishop, Apres Match, Maeve Higgins and Jason Byrne -- to mention a few.

These are all clever, hard working people who have made a name for themselves and deserve all the praise and money they get.

But comedians just don't make me laugh. Fat Booth makes me laugh. My sister Rachel makes me laugh. I sometimes make myself laugh, by being a tad stupid at times. But with comedians, I can't deal with the pressure that I am supposed to react a certain way.

And I know it's all contrived. I can see that they have sat in a room, written down notes, remembered funny things that have happened to them recently and then put it all together into a stand-up routine.

Comedy is such a strange occupation and those who do it can be somewhat odd.

I once spent an evening with a well known Irish comedian. We were at an awards ceremony and we were sitting at a table with six other people. The comedian was dour, silent and grumpy. He obviously wanted to get the message across that he wasn't there to make us smile, in fact it seems he wasn't there to be civil. He played the dark, tormented soul for the evening, and boy, did it bore the tits off me.

I didn't always feel this way. When I lived in Edinburgh, during the arts festival I went to a comedy show every day or so for three weeks. I think I might have overdosed on laughing. I saw a young Caroline Aherne do the most amazing routine, that was so left of field, my brain hurt from trying to understand it. I didn't necessarily laugh, but I was amused beyond belief.

Maybe that's the problem. Maybe comedians try too hard to make us laugh. If they realised that a lot of the time, we only want to hear a good story, whether it's tragic, horrific, amusing or amazing.

Or maybe I am just a boring, dour, dark person.

Hey, I should do stand-up.