John Hegley is one of comedy’s great survivors. Few of his Comedy Store contemporaries from the 80s are still around – and if they are, they are not very funny.

Hegley, who has always been more of a performance poet than a stand-up, is not only extremely amusing, he is still a successful entertainer with Radio 4 shows, a busy touring schedule and something like 16 books under his belt. Which isn’t bad for someone still trotting out daft stories about dogs, potatoes and glasses – but then, they never stop being funny.

Hegley excels as a wordsmith – he fizzes with clever wordplay, which is apparent when he goes off piste. Having made a slip-up in a poem, he riffed on the theme in an impromptu freestyle, which had us in stitches.

The simplicity of his poetry and songs and his innocent, if sophisticated, sense of humour make him perfect for a family show. But that’s not to say his two shows at The North Wall on Saturday were exclusively for kids. There were adults – couples indeed – joining in the songs and finding it all utterly hilarious. Hegley’s humour is that infectious though.

The show was called All Hail the Snail and focused on animals, with songs about a guillemot, dog, snake and, of course, the snail. All were accompanied by his own (and his daughter’s) drawings or old photographs of his family. There was a sweet piece about him and his sister’s imaginary travels around the world on their flying sofa when they were kids, and a surreal item about the three-headed ‘Hound of Hades’ Cerberus – in which the two outer heads disliked the dog in the middle and bit his head off. Family featured heavily with touching pieces about his art-loving French father and their ancestor, the 18th century composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. Music, including Rameau’s, was provided by Clare Elstow on keys and John on mandolin.

It was charming, sweet, surreal, and very funny – and I would wager everyone there came out feeling better about the world.