updated 04/17/2013 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/17/2013 AT 4:15 PM ET
Following harsh criticism from judge Len Goodman and spending consecutive weeks at the bottom of the leader board, D.L. Hughley finally said goodbye to the ballroom on Tuesday night’s Dancing with the Stars.
“I’m sad,” the comedian, 50, told PEOPLE backstage after he and partner, Cheryl Burke, 28, were eliminated. “[My fans kept me] on life support. I’m going to continue dancing, but no one will care. I’m not dancing for scores. Now that I’m not intimidated anymore, I’m going to dance.”
When Hughley agreed to be on the show, he hadn’t expected the judges to be so critical.
“I did know it would be physically challenging, but I didn’t know it was going to be so technical,” he admits. “I thought people would naturally love me – and, of course, how could they not?”
For Burke, being dismissed this early in the season isn’t something that’s happened since season 9, with Tom DeLay.
“It was a different experience,” she says of being sent home Tuesday night. “Every season I have a different experience. Honestly, we made it halfway, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Obviously, our fans kept us in. It wasn’t our scores.”
Adds Burke, “It was a fun one because we had no pressure. This show can sometimes be so competitive and this time was fun and we had a great time.”
As for Hughley – who agreed with Burke that, from the beginning, they didn’t have a chance at winning – he will miss his partner.
“I love her, and it’s nice to meet someone who is so beautiful and is so real,” he said. “She’s a real human being. I just think it’s nice meeting someone who is as ballsy as she is beautiful.”