Puberty is a magical, confusing, terrifying time in a person’s life, and comedians Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone—the latter of whom is appearing at The Onion and The A.V. Club’s 26th Annual Comedy Festival in Chicago this June—want to make sure that young women everywhere are armed with all the information they need to survive this baffling biological ordeal. They share what they know and what they think they know in a hallucinatory new video called “Puberty Tips,” an offering from Refinery 29’s female-driven comedy YouTube channel, Riot. The video starts out as a pretty standard middle school biology class tutorial. Nancherla and Firestone let viewers know what to expect from the onset of adolescence. Hair will sprout. Hips will widen. That sort of thing. But then, things get strange. Nancherla, for instance, says that developing “cat-like reflexes” is normal, while “your feelings may develop their own web presence.” Firestone, meanwhile, says that puberty will slow the thought process and make meats taste different. Sounds legit.
Soon enough, it’s time to delve into the realities of bras, tampons, and pads. Here is where the comedians really allow themselves to stray from the accepted wisdom on these sensitive topics. Pads are shown being worn on the outside of clothes, while the hosts reveal that the key to proper tampon use is opening one’s legs as far as possible. It may help to picture the Bermuda Triangle, they say. In all, though their advice may be dangerous and/or humiliating if followed exactly, Nancherla and Firestone’s video is really no more or less accurate than actual, school-board-approved educational films like 1953’s Molly Grows Up. Readers are invited to compare and contrast the messages contained therein.