As that Pineapple Express Oscar short proved, James Franco‘s stoner character is one of the great comic incarnations of our time. He was so euphorically good as “Saul Silver” in Pineapple Express that it’s a little hard to come to terms with the idea of Franco performing in a dramatically straight, soulful and sincere vein.

Nonetheless, a straight, soulful and sincere Franco will be giving a Word Theatre performance this Sunday at Manhattan’s Soho House from 3 to 5 pm. I’ve attended several Word Theatre readings and remain a big fan. I love being part of that Word Theatre atmosphere, which is basically a classy literary salon-type deal.

I’d actually like to attend this Sunday’s thing — it’s only $25 a pop — and maybe bring my ex-wife along but there are complications. Don’t ask.

Franco will host and read from a new story by Jim Shepard. Julianna Margulies (Ghost Ship) will read a story by Amy Hempel. And Lynn Whitfield (Stepmom, Head of State) will read a story by John Edgar Wideman.

Just understand that Franco will not be wearing a hippie wig, love beads, a tie-dyed T-shirt, bell-bottoms or sandals. I for one would love to see him read the Shepard story like Saul would read it — stumbling here and there, giggling, mispronouncing this and that name, improvising, etc. But that wouldn’t be fair to Shepard, I suppose. Although it would be fine with me.