There’s no dancing around it – Drew Carey is an improved ballroom performer.
The comedian, 55, who danced a 33-points-out-of-40 routine with Witney Carson during partner change-ups week on Monday’s Dancing with the Stars, had a hunch this would be the one where he’d show how he’s improved.
“I felt all along throughout rehearsal that this could be a breakout performance,” Carey told PEOPLE backstage after his number, which earned him three points higher than the previous week’s dance with regular partner Cheryl Burke. “I think a lot of time comics get a short shift on the show. They don’t think comics can dance, and I want to disprove all that.”
So, just what was it that made Carey so certain he’d wow the judges this week?
“The song was really up and energetic and Witney really put together such a good routine for me,” he explained. “I thought, wow, I can really kill this if I don’t make a lot of major mistakes.”
Monday’s experience gave Carey just what he needs to move forward confidently in the competition.
“As long as I get better every single week, I’m going to do pretty [well], I think,” he said. “I think the pressure is on everyone else who started out big to stay big. I’m like slowly steady Eddie. I’m in a good spot, I think.”
Carson, who is normally paired with Cody Simpson, enjoyed her experience working briefly with the host of The Price Is Right.
“Drew has a great energy about him, even though the age difference is kind of big,” the 20-year-old told PEOPLE. “He loves performing and he did so awesome. I’m so proud. We had a very good experience. We had a blast.”
And it sounds like Carey agrees.
“I have weird hours and I don’t get to meet other pros or hang out with them, so now I got to know Witney and when I see her in the hallway, I can go, ‘Hey!’ and we have our own thing,” he said. “It’s really nice to have another relationship on the show.”