Bart must work at Belle's La Maison Derrière, the local burlesque house as a punishment for breaking a stone gargoyle. Meanwhile, Lisa convinces Marge to embark on a hopeless journey.
Lisa sees a report on the news that an oil tanker has crashed and has spilled thousands of gallons of oil on the beach. She asks Marge if she can go and help save the local wildlife. After begging, Marge agrees. Bart and Homer stay at home and quickly turn the house into a pigsty. Bart goes to Springfield Park to play with his friends and their remote control airplane. The airplane lands on the roof of a creepy looking house, and Bart climbs over the fence to get the airplane. Bart ends up falling off the roof, and as he falls, he knocks over one of the house's gargoyle statues, which falls off and breaks. The owner of the house, Belle, demands compensation; Homer tells Bart to do chores for her to make up for the damages.
Bart discovers that the house is actually a Burlesque house and quickly takes a new enthusiasm to his job. Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa discover that the only people who can clean the animals are celebrities, who are doing so for photo opportunities. They are set to scrubbing rocks clean. After a long and unfulfilling day scrubbing rocks, which only keep getting covered in more oil, they head home. While they were away, Homer has learned about the true nature of the Burlesque house, but does nothing about Bart working there. Soon, the Flanders and Lovejoys confront him on the matter after Principal Skinner sees Bart in the reception room. Marge overhears and is furious.
Marge asks (i.e. demands) Belle to close down the Burlesque house, Belle refuses, pointing out that she's been living in Springfield for years, and so has the Burlesque, and she's got as much right as anyone else to be there. Calling a town meeting, Marge brings up the matter of the house and after embarrassing multiple important people, gets support of the town to destroy it, prompting an angry mob to gather.
As they are about to destroy the house, Bart convinces Homer to tell them to stop. He does so by breaking into a musical number, We Put the Spring in Springfield (accompanied by Belle and her backup dancers) which convinces the town not to destroy the house. However, Marge arrives with a bulldozer, having missed the song. She tries to make up her own song to express her views, during which she accidentally puts the bulldozer into drive and damages the Burlesque house in the process.
To keep things from going further, Marge agrees to help Belle in order to pay for the damage. This results in her having to start working at the Burlesque herself, performing a ventriloquist act on stage.
Behind the Laughter
This episode won an Emmy for "Outstanding Music and Lyrics in a Comedy/Musical Film (An Hour or Less Long)" for the climactic musical number.