BILL Bailey's gigs are now as much rock shows as comedy nights. His larks don't come in transit vans but two huge heavy goods vehicles.

On stage, you can see why. The West Country stand-up has a bank of guitars, a row of pedals and an amp to one side and a state-of-the-art synthesiser keyboard with all manner of bells and whistles to the other, along with assorted percussive objects that look like low-budget weekend barbecues at first glance.

Bailey prowls the space in the middle, behind which is a map of South East Asia that could have been torn from a boy's own adventure book, complemented by rolled maps that double as funnels of light.

Bailey's show has a structure, built around his musings on the three Ps, politics, philosophy and the pursuit of happiness, and his gifts for mimicry both vocal and musical, but it is free form too, allowing for wonderfully unpredictable audience interaction with the people of York, or Ousenfossers, as he calls us.

He does not pick on the front-row seats, so much as spring surprises on them, pipe in mouth, as he asks questions, such as why do we have days? The answers on Wednesday night – he plays a second sold-out show tonight – are as surreal as his own thoughts. Maybe that is the effect this gloriously playful, but professor-bright observer has. 

Later, in his post-interval set, he asks if anyone is in a band. Yes, comes the reply. What's it called? "We've only just formed today". Unintentional comedy gold, but Bailey's bonhomie deserves such moments.

He summons up Trump simply by flicking his mane of heavy-metal hair over his bald pate; he reduces Boris Johnson to a blubbery seal and the NHS to an App; Ed Sheeran is compared to a Furby; his eloquence on Brexit puts politicians to shame; and there is room for bird song as well as tales of his travelling larks.

He finishes as Bell Bailey, ringing out familiar tunes on myriad bells. The (sometimes thwarted) pursuit of happiness is complete in the jocund yet sage company of this latterday Shakespearean Fool, as full of Larkin as much as larking. Bailey is the cream of today's comedians, wittier than ever at 53. The world would be so much better with Bill in charge.

Bill Bailey, Larks In Transit, York Barbican, tonight at 8pm; sold out. Also Hull City Hall, April 25 (tickets 01482 300300); Leeds First Direct Arena, June 8 (0844 248 1585).