LOG on to Beppe Grillo's blog – reportedly one of the 10 most visited blogs in the world – and the first thing you see is his jovial, grinning face, giving what appears to be an obscene gesture.
Standard practice, maybe, for someone who has been dubbed a "silenced satirist" but Grillo is also a political activist. This 63-year-old Italian comic, who has also been referred to as a clown and a campaigning blogger, is now the hottest topic in Italian politics.
Having spearheaded several national political campaigns, his Five Star Movement, as it's called, recently polled about 10% of the vote in Italy's latest round of local elections.
A poll also suggested one-third of Italians expect Grillo's party to fare well in the next General Election, which is 10 months away, even if two-thirds believe he won't be able to run the country.
Likened to an Italian Michael Moore, Giuseppe Piero Grillo, to give him his full name, was first banned from public television in the mid-1980s after he labelled the ruling Socialists "thieves".
With his comedy increasingly turning to politics, he annoyed many an Italian politician over the years. But, after premier Silvio Berlusconi's dramatic fall from grace highlighted, it turned out he wasn't far off the mark.
Grillo's willingness to call out those he believes to be corrupt led him to begin blogging so frequently that his voice became a movement which is now popular all over Italy. The man harnesses the power of social media – including Twitter and Facebook – to spread his message, shaking up the country's politics with his opposition to the euro, austerity and corruption.
All this from a man who is considered to be anti-politics. But Grillo is also very funny. He's been described as an Italian Billy Connolly, with a "razor-sharp tongue".
And in a country where Prime Minister Mario Monti is a well-respected economist (ie boring), dramatic characters like Grillo – who's a strong supporter of internet freedom – could hold a strong appeal when times are tough.
With voters disillusioned by mainstream politicians, it's believed many an intelligent Italian supports him. And at a time when one in three young Italians are out of work, Grillo is at least pretending to listen to the populace and, more importantly, communicate.
After all, it's what he's good at. During the 1990s he toured the country in sell-out one-man shows, proving he can certainly hold an audience. As a "politician," he suggests simple solutions to complex-sounding issues; and, by acting slightly OTT, he brings added theatrical appeal.
Mr Monti may still enjoy majority support among most Italian voters – and a much-needed expert in finances he may be – but if he is to find a long-lasting place in the nation's consciousness, perhaps he should take a leaf out of Grillo's book.
.... Beppe Grillo
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.