A comedian’s skin is thick. It has to be. You not only have drunken hecklers and stony-faced haters, you’ve got reviewers to deal with, too. Claire Sullivan’s show, Space Cadet, for instance, was included in a Herald Sun listicle on the “best and worst” shows of the festival. She was on the “worst” one. “If there were points for trying, Claire Sullivan’s show would be a five-star sellout,” wrote reviewer Shannon Deery. “But trying doesn’t cut it when you’re a one-woman show performing to people who have spent their hard-earned so they can have a laugh.”

It appears, however, the last laugh is with Sullivan, and the rest of the Herald Sun rejects.

Starting this week, The Butterfly Club is mounting an encore season of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where each member of the Worst List gets another crack at their craic.

The season will feature performances from Sullivan, Miss Itchy (“a shambolic, flaccid, offensive mess”), Sean Bedlam (“little to recommend in this show, beyond Bedlam’s remarkable beard”) and Beau Heartbreaker (“for starters, I just want to laugh”).

Simone Pulga, director of The Butterfly Club, believes comedians, who took the financial risk of producing their own show, deserve better than losing their audiences to clickbait. “I personally think these are good shows, but that’s not the issue: reviewers write what they please,” says Pulga. “The issue is commodifying bad reviews to drive web traffic at the expense of people who can’t bite back, a shameful act of editorial cowardice.”

For her part, Sullivan took the Herald Sun’s review with a grain of salt: “Some people that I truly admire have been pulled apart by various reviewers,” she says. “But the Hun’s the Hun. Who gives a shit about the Hun, really?”

The Worst Of the Fest encore shows begin at The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne from Wednesday May 6 to Saturday May 9. Tickets are $20 or $15 concession. Visit thebutterflyclub.com for bookings.