When Springfield is burned to the ground, the Simpsons beg Mr. Burns to fund its rebuilding. Burns agrees - with one condition: he gets to put on a variety show at the Springfield Bowl.
The Simpsons are taking a walk through Springfield when they observe the townspeople looking at the sky in terror. They soon found out that the Lard Lad statue disappeared. With the police unable to take any action, the town's residents are split between rioting and keeping control maintained, which made the total damage from the riot $0, but because of that, the Lard Lad company chose to re-brand themselves with a new chrome statue.
However, they soon found out that the statue had a major issue, as it started reflecting sun rays into the town, burning it down almost completely. Mayor Quimby promises people that they will rebuild the city, but six months later, they haven't made any progress. Because of that, the Simpsons convince Mr. Burns to fund the town's reconstruction. Burns agrees with the condition of performing a variety show at the Springfield Bowl.
During the audition, Burns has a flashback to when he was a child, about to go on stage for the pee-wee pageant of 1913, with his mother licking him to wish him good luck. Later that day, Burns goes to Springfield Elementary School looking for other people to perform on stage when he has problems opening a clasp on a clipboard. Lisa helps out and Burns agrees to hire her as his personal assistant.
Back at the audition, Burns has another flashback to his childhood presentation, showing that he was the laughingstock for everyone at the bowl, and even his mother failed to comfort him. He then says that he wants his presentation to have someone been shot into a cannon. Lisa laughs at his idea, saying that it would be impossible to perform. This makes Burns irritated and he agrees to cancel the show.
Feeling sorry for Mr. Burns, Lisa chooses to go to his mansion to try to convince him to do the show, without any success. She then gets curious about what happened to him, so Smithers shows her an old recording of his performance, showing that his suspenders snapped in the middle of his tap-dance presentation, making his pants fall, and as he went to put them back on, his underwear also fell, resulting on the audience laughing at him. Later, Lisa manages to convince Burns to make the show.
Meanwhile, at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, with Burns gone, the employees started treating the plant as a resort, complete with a pool and games. However, when Homer was preparing for a prank, Marge reminded him that he is the safety inspector for the plant, and he was the one who should be stopping that. Later, Homer manages to put the employees back to work, but some bags of popcorn that were inside the core caused a fire.
At the bowl, everything goes according to plan, but at the ending they were interrupted by what looks to be fireworks, which is later revealed to be the power plant exploding. However, Burns isn't done with the show yet, as he wants to reenact his presentation, but his second attempt doesn't go any better, as he gets pushed away by a spotlight into a lamp, which causes his pants to burn down, and making him the laughingstock at the bowl once again. Burns gets ticked off at Lisa, but he ends up forgiving her and allowing Lisa to play the saxophone on stage for an empty crowd.
In the final scene, Lisa asks Homer why Simpsons always fail, and he answers that it is because of a curse, as their ancestors didn't let Joseph and Mary stay at their home for Jesus' birth.
Dennis Perkins of The A.V Club gave the episode a C commenting, "There’s room for audaciousness, even cruelty, in The Simpsons’ comedy, if it’s earned. “Monty Burns’ Fleeing Circus” wears its breezy brutality and laziness like a sign reading “It’s just a cartoon.” But at its best, The Simpsons is a much better cartoon than this".
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