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If you didn't know, Charlie Sheen recently kicked off his 20-date tour in Detroit on the evening of April 2nd “to a slew of walkouts and boo.” As the Guardian commented: “Charlie Sheen's remaining credibility was blown out of the water as fans booed him off-stage on the first night of tour." The result seems to have been terrible.

Not only the Guardian, but many other press reviews lambasted Sheen’s poorly organized stage and his performance on it. Looking through these critical comments, I stumbled on a phrase, “This show is all pump-up, no narrative,” appearing in a review.

What is the exact meaning of “pump-up” and “narrative” in the following by-minute description of the show? Does it simply mean shallow and empty contents? Can somebody translate it for me?

9:13 – Sheen: “They took my awesome children… They took my sometimes bitchin job… And when they thought there was nothing left, they tried to take my titanium heart and brain and spine. But they could not.” Audience growing restless. This show is all pump-up, no narrative.

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In this case, pump-up would be 'hype' or 'sensationalism'

while narrative would be substance.

Therefore, the reviewer is saying that there is a lot of hype but not much payoff; the stories are heavily weighted with accusations and emotive concepts (they took my children) but don't really lead to any point or prove anything.

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I'm fairly sure that's what he means, at least. There could be some other obscure intention but for that, you would have to ask him personally. –  Karl Apr 5 '11 at 4:14
    
I like the translation - a lot of hype but not much payoff. I would like to use it on somebody, somewhare. –  Yoichi Oishi Apr 5 '11 at 11:42

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