A to C

What’s “A to C-ing it?”

From the UCB Manual, pp. 225-226:

If [a suggestion] is the A, the improviser went right to their B, or first thought. When you go from A to B, you often end up just listing synonyms for the suggestion or a subset of elements that belong in the category represented by the suggestion…. Making these A to B moves is natural. The way you can learn to make less obvious moves is to manually go through the process of “going A to C.” You could also think of this process as “going to your next thought.”

…Hearing “sand” might first make you think of “rock.” …Forcing yourself to go from A to C means not saying “rock,” but instead going to your next thought. …So, “sand” was A, “rock” was B, and “Rolling Stones” was C. When you manually go A to C, you keep your B in your head and say your C out loud.


Words are hard for me. The first time my team tried this pattern game as a warm-up exercise, I kept freezing up. It took me a second or two just to come up with a “B”; within another couple seconds, the pressure of ‘Oh god everyone’s staring at me! Quick, say something smart! WHY AREN’T YOU COMING UP WITH ANYTHING?!’ paralyzed me to the point where I couldn’t think of anything, B or C or otherwise.

After a couple rounds of this, my teammate told me, “Look, your B might be someone else’s C. What’s obvious to you isn’t necessarily obvious to everyone else.

These days, I believe A to C-ing is a good skill to have, especially when coming up with a series of first beat scenes, but I believe even more strongly that doing an obvious B is way better than doing nothing because you can’t think of a clever C. Just getting out there and jumping on the bomb, saying something, doing anything, even if it’s obvious, will serve you better than hanging back and getting scared in your head.

My $0.02, as ever.


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