As Italy's election debacle thundered and Silvio Berlusconi unashamedly attempted to slither back into politics, a surprise victor stepped into the ring.

Comedian turned politician Beppe Grillo has emerged, unexpectedly triumphant, with his Five Star party looking set to become the biggest single party in Parliament's lower house.

For a campaign that started as little more than a joke three years ago, comparable to the team of Mock The Week forming a political party led by Frankie Boyle, to take 25.54 per cent of the vote was a considerable achievement.

beppe grillo

Bushy-haired Beppe riling the crowds

Grillo's been poking fun at Italy's politicians for years, labelling former Prime Minister Mario Monti, "Rigor Montis" for his poker face and sending up Berlusconi for his sex life (to be fair, he hasn't been alone in this.) He shuns TV appearances and instead tweets, campaigns against corruption in person and writes on his blog, one of the most read in the country.

Many attribute the success of the long haired 64-year-old to Italians frustration with parliamentary corruption and out-of-touch attitude of the other candidates.

Satirist John O'Farrell wrote in May last year about the phenomenon of the comic turned politician. He writes "There is the 'Vote for me as a hilarious protest' candidacy, which is all very well for making a satirical point on election day, but doesn't help to hammer out that difficult budgetary allocation six months down the line.

"Then there is the satirist who is genuinely angry about injustice and the state of the government, but is prepared to put in the work doing all the boring stuff that change actually demands."

He should know. The author, broadcaster and comedy scriptwriter is now standing as a candidate for Labour in the most hotly anticipated contest this parliament has seen.

Another panellist he sat alongside during appearances on Have I Got News For You is now the Mayor of London, with Boris Johnson's bumbling charisma making him buck the Tory trend.

O'Farrell is not the only satirist who's turned his hand to politics, proving the accuracy of the old adage: "Well if you can't beat them, join them."

Eddie Izzard’s campaigned for Labour in the 2010 election, saying "the Tory party have changed their suits, but still don't believe in fairness, otherwise they wouldn't be in the Tory party".

Take a look through the list of other comedians who've turned to politics.

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  • Jim Davidson for the Tories

    The comedian Jim Davidson took to the stage of the Conservative Party conference in 2000 to appeal for Tory funds.

  • Jon Gnarr, mayor for Reykjavík in Iceland

    Jón has no background in politics but in 2009 formed the Best Party with a number of other people. Pledging to make life 'more fun' the party managed a plurality in the 2010 municipal elections in Reykjavík

  • Al Franken

    Former Saturday Night Live regular comedian Alan Stuart "Al" Franken is now an American politician and the current junior United States Senator from Minnesota, serving since 2009

  • Eddie Izzard

    Labour leader Ed Miliband, London Mayor candidate Ken Livingstone and Eddie Izzard launch Labour's 6 key pledges for London, at London Bridge station.

  • Ayesha Hazarika

    Comedienne Ayesha Hazarika moved into politics, formerly writing Ed Miliband's gags for PMQs . She has taken up a new role as chief of staff to Harriet Harman.

  • John O'Farrell

  • And one who went the other way..

    A member of the Liberal Democrats, he served as a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Montgomeryshire in Wales until he left to become a stand up comedian. It's not a joke.