'Jiggle Jiggle': How documentarian Louis Theroux took over TikTok with a novelty rap song

·4 min read

Heads up, Jack Harlow!

Louis Theroux, the British documentarian of BBC fame, may hardly have fancied himself as an MC, no less a famous one. Yet thanks to some original rap verses he once laid down for a 20-year-old documentary — and a couple of savvy DJs from Manchester named Duke and Jones — Theroux has become a most unlikely TikTok music star.

The 51-year-old son of novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux debuted his "My Money Don't Jiggle, Jiggle, It Folds" rap on a 2000 episode of his docuseries "Weird Weekends." In it, Theroux traveled to New Orleans to interview Southern MCs like Mello T, Master P and Q-T-Pie — then competed in a live rap battle on the city's storied hip-hop radio station, Q93 FM, refereed by local DJ Wild Wayne.

Reading gingerly from a crumpled piece of paper, Theroux rhymed, in a distinctly prim English accent: "My money don't jiggle, jiggle, it folds / I like to see you wiggle, wiggle, for sure."

Twenty-two years later, a remix of his rap has spawned a dance craze on TikTok — where everyone from Snoop Dogg to Rita Ora can be found wiggling along to "Jiggle Jiggle."

Theroux's novelty rap found a new audience after a February 2022 episode of the YouTube series "Chicken Shop Date," in which vlogger Amelia Dimoldenberg asked Theroux to reprise his original rap a capella. On March 16, Manchester DJ duo Duke and Jones fashioned a sleek remix of the song and shared it on TikTok.

Since then, the track has been used in 1.2 million videos on the platform.

Theroux could not be reached for comment. But 26-year-olds Duke and Jones, whose real names are Luke Conibear and Isaac McKelvey, told The Times that the documentarian is a "national treasure in the U.K."

"We didn’t watch ['Weird Weekends'] when it came out because we were about three years old," said the DJs via email, "but the series went on Netflix for a while when we were in high school and it became quite the phenomenon in our friend group."

The "Jiggle Jiggle" remix has not just raised the pair's profile on TikTok — it secured them a record deal with the Sony Music UK imprint Robots + Humans.

As kids, Duke and Jones shared an affinity for playing FIFA, snacking on grilled cheeses and tinkering with beats on Logic. Once they mastered Logic’s built-in pitch correction plugin, they made a name for themselves through a TikTok series called "adding autotune to random videos." The U.K. analogs to American comedians the Gregory Brothers, originators of the "Auto-Tune the News" gag, Duke and Jones would sift through old cartoons and TV interviews for clips to fiddle with.

"A lot of our early videos were of children or angry people," said Duke and Jones, "because we found both of these groups spoke quite rhythmically, and hit a much wider range of notes in their speech than normal talking, so it gives the autotune more to work with."

Theroux's slow, orderly flow made the perfect specimen for a remix, they said. The duo later crafted an extended remix from an additional clip they found, featuring Theroux rapping on U.K. late night show "The Russell Howard Hour" in 2018. "I sit bruised from chalices / holding my palaces," rhymed Theroux, "Crib is so crampy / suckers suffer from paralysis."

On the same show, however, Theroux issued a disclaimer for his rhymes: "If you take hip-hop quite seriously, making a comedy rap is quite sacrilegious."

But like Theroux, Duke and Jones identify as aficionados of hip-hop — they name Manchester rapper Aitch, as well as Denzel Curry and Kendrick Lamar as some of their favorite MCs. Apart from their humorous remixes, the pair make original music of their own; in 2020 they released a dubstep-infused house EP titled "Solace." They can be spotted behind the DJ booths at clubs in and around Manchester, or concocting beats for artists like English grime MC Flowdan.

Is there a chance that Theroux may want to further his hip-hop career? If so, Duke and Jones remain on standby.

"We haven’t yet played the autotune remixes at clubs," they said. "But we might have to make an exception for King Louis and stick him in the set somewhere."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.