Four or 5 occasions a week today, some previous buddy will contact Louis Theroux and inform him, “My daughter keeps going around the house singing your rap,” or, “My wife was exercising to your rap in her Pilates class.” Passing by a main college, Mr. Theroux has the sensation he’s being watched, a sense confirmed when he hears a child name out behind him: “My money don’t jiggle jiggle.”
His agent has been fielding dozens of requests for private appearances and invites to carry out. Mr. Theroux, a 52-year-old British American documentary filmmaker with a bookish, considerably anxious demeanor, has turned all of them down, not least as a result of, as he put it in a video interview from his London dwelling, “I am not trying to make it as a rapper.”
But in a manner, he already has: Mr. Theroux is the person behind “Jiggle Jiggle,” a sensation on TikTookay and YouTube, the place it has been streamed a whole lot of tens of millions of occasions. He delivers the rap in an understated voice that bears traces of his Oxford schooling, giving an amusing lilt to the strains “My money don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds/I’d like to see you wiggle, wiggle, for sure.”
For Mr. Theroux, a son of the American writer Paul Theroux and a cousin of the actor Justin Theroux, the entire episode has been odd and a little unsettling. “I’m pleased that people are enjoying the rap,” he mentioned. “At the same time, there’s a part of me that has a degree of mixed feelings. It’s a bittersweet thing to experience a breakthrough moment of virality through something that, on the face of it, seems so disposable and so out of keeping with what it is that I actually do in my work. But there we are.”
The story of how this middle-aged father of three has taken maintain of youth tradition with a novelty rap is “a baffling 21st century example of just the weirdness of the world that we live in,” Mr. Theroux mentioned.
“Jiggle Jiggle” gestated for years earlier than it turned all the trend. It began in 2000, when Mr. Theroux was internet hosting “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends,” a BBC Two sequence wherein he delved into varied subcultures. For an episode within the third and last season, he traveled to the American South, the place he met a variety of rappers, together with Master P. As a part of the present, he determined to do a rap himself, however he had solely a few meager strains: “Jiggle Jiggle/I love it when you wiggle/It makes me want to dribble/Fancy a fiddle?”
He enlisted Reese & Bigalow, a rap duo in Jackson, Miss., to assist him work it into form. Bigalow cleaned up the opening strains and linked the phrase “jiggle” with the phrase “jingle” to recommend the sound of cash in your pocket. Reese requested him what sort of automobile he drove. His reply — Fiat Tipo — led to the strains, “Riding in my Fiat/You really have to see it/Six-feet-two in a compact/No slack but luckily the seats go back.”
“Reese & Bigalow infused the rap with a genuine quality,” Mr. Theroux mentioned. “The elements that make it special, I could never have written on my own. At the risk of overanalyzing it, the genius part of it, in my mind, was saying, ‘My money don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds.’ There was something very satisfying about the cadence of those words.”
He filmed himself performing the track dwell on the New Orleans hip-hop station Q93, and BBC viewers witnessed his rap debut when the episode aired within the fall of 2000. That might need been the tip of “Jiggle Jiggle” — however “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends” received new life in 2016, when Netflix licensed the present and began streaming it on Netflix UK. The rap episode turned a favourite, and each time Mr. Theroux made the publicity rounds for a new venture, interviewers would inevitably ask him about his hip-hop foray.
In February of this yr, whereas selling a new present, “Louis Theroux’s Forbidden America,” Mr. Theroux sat down for an interview on the favored net speak present “Chicken Shop Date,” hosted by the London comic Amelia Dimoldenberg.
“Can you remember any of the rap that you did?” Ms. Dimoldenberg requested, prompting Mr. Theroux to launch into his rhymes in what he described as “my slightly po-faced and dry English delivery.”
“What happened subsequently is the most mystifying part,” he added.
Luke Conibear and Isaac McKelvey, a pair of DJ-producers in Manchester, England, generally known as Duke & Jones, plucked the audio from “Chicken Shop Date” and set it to a backing monitor with an easygoing beat. Then they uploaded the song to their YouTube account, the place it has 12 million views and counting.
But “Jiggle Jiggle” turned a phenomenon thanks largely to Jess Qualter and Brooke Blewitt, 21-year-old graduates of Laine Theater Arts, a performing arts school in Surrey, England. In April, the 2 buddies have been making pasta at their shared condo once they heard the track and rapidly choreographed strikes suited to the monitor — dribbling a basketball, turning a steering wheel — and the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance was born.
Wearing hooded sweatshirts and shades (an outfit chosen as a result of they weren’t carrying make-up, the ladies mentioned in an interview), Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt made a 27-second video of themselves performing the routine. It blew up shortly after Ms. Qualter posted it on TikTookay. Copycat movies quickly sprang up from TikTookay customers around the globe.
“This was all going on without me knowing about it,” Mr. Theroux mentioned. “I received an e mail: ‘Hey, a remix of the rap you did on “Chicken Shop Date” is going viral and doing extraordinary things on TikTok.’ I’m, like, ‘Well, that’s humorous and peculiar.’”
It burst out of TikTookay and into the mainstream final month, when Shakira performed the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Snoop Dogg, Megan Thee Stallion and Rita Ora have all posted themselves dancing to it. The cast of Downton Abbey jiggle-jiggled throughout a pink carpet occasion.
“Anthony Hopkins has just done a thing yesterday,” Mr. Theroux mentioned. “It would be too much to call it a dance. It’s more of a twitch. But he’s doing something.”
The complete episode has been unusual for his three youngsters, particularly his 14-year-old son, who’s large into TikTookay. “‘Why is my dad, the most cringe guy in the universe, everywhere on TikTok?’” Mr. Theroux mentioned, giving voice to his son’s response.
“I’ve left my stank all over his timeline,” he continued. “I think it’s made him very confused and slightly resentful.”
Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt discover it equally surreal to see Shakira and others dancing to their strikes. “I almost forget that we made that up,” Ms. Qualter mentioned. “It doesn’t feel like it’s happened. It’s got over 60 million views. We see the number on the screen, but I can’t comprehend that there are people behind it.”
After the unique Duke & Jones remix went viral — that’s, the one with the vocal monitor taken from “Chicken Shop Date” — the DJ-producer duo requested Mr. Theroux to redo his vocal in a recording studio. That manner, as an alternative of being simply one other TikTookay ear-worm, “Jiggle Jiggle” might be made obtainable on Spotify, iTunes and different platforms, and its makers may acquire some publicity and revenue from it.
In addition to Mr. Theroux, 5 composers are credited on the official launch: Duke & Jones; Reese & Bigalow; and the 81-year-old hitmaker Neil Diamond. Mr. Diamond turned a part of the crew when his representatives signed off on “Jiggle Jiggle,” which echoes his 1967 track “Red Red Wine” within the half the place Mr. Theroux’s Auto-tuned voice sings the phrases “red, red wine.” The track hit the Spotify viral charts globally final month.
So does this imply actual cash?
“I sincerely hope we can all make some jiggle jiggle out of the phenomenon. Or maybe some fold,” Mr. Theroux mentioned. “So far, it’s been more on the jiggle end.”
In his profession as a documentary filmmaker, Mr. Theroux has explored the worlds of male porn stars, the Church of Scientology, right-wing militia teams, and opioid addicts. In his new BBC sequence, “Forbidden America,” Mr. Theroux examines the results of social media on the leisure trade and politics. Years earlier than Netflix had a hit present centered on Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who is healthier generally known as the Tiger King, Mr. Theroux made a movie about him. The American documentarian John Wilson, the creator and star of HBO’s “How To With John Wilson,” has cited him as an affect.
Now his physique of labor has been eclipsed, at least briefly, by “Jiggle Jiggle.” And like many who go viral, Mr. Theroux finds himself making an attempt to know what simply occurred and work out what he’s presupposed to do with this newfound cultural capital.
“It’s not like I have a catalog and, like, now I can release all of my other novelty rap fragments,” he mentioned. “I’m clearly not going to tour it. ‘Come see Mr. Jiggle himself.’ It would be a 20-second-long gig.”