Four or five times a week these days, some old friend will contact Louis Theroux and tell 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 primary school, Mr. Theroux has the feeling he is being watched, a sense confirmed when he hears a kid call out behind him: “My money don’t jiggle jiggle.”
His agent has been fielding dozens of requests for personal appearances and invitations to perform. Mr. Theroux, a 52-year-old British American documentary filmmaker with a bookish, somewhat anxious demeanor, has turned them all down, not least because, as he put it in a video interview from his London home, “I am not trying to make it as a rapper.”
But in a way, he already has: Mr. Theroux is the man behind “Jiggle Jiggle,” a sensation on TikTok and YouTube, where it has been streamed hundreds of millions of times. He delivers the rap in an understated voice that bears traces of his Oxford education, giving an amusing lilt to the lines “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 author Paul Theroux and a cousin of the actor Justin Theroux, the whole episode has been odd and a little unsettling. “I’m pleased that people are enjoying the rap,” he said. “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 hold of youth culture with a novelty rap is “a baffling 21st century example of just the weirdness of the world that we live in,” Mr. Theroux said.
“Jiggle Jiggle” gestated for years before it became all the rage. It started in 2000, when Mr. Theroux was hosting “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends,” a BBC Two series in which he delved into various subcultures. For an episode in the third and final season, he traveled to the American South, where he met a number of rappers, including Master P. As part of the show, he decided to do a rap himself, but he had only a few meager lines: “Jiggle Jiggle/I love it …….